- Article: One Camera, One Lens, One Film, One Developer
- Author: Bob Soltys
- Date: 02/10/13
Some of us use a variety of films and carry a lot of equipment. If that works, that’s great, but if you find yourself frequently wondering what camera, what lens and what film to use before you leave the house, you might consider whether a simpler approach might work better, especially if you’re new to film photography.
Some films, like Ilford’s Delta 3200, are designed for a specific purpose, and are well suited to making images at night without a tripod, like the 1940′s era Mercedes Benz in Paris.
Same goes for lenses. If you’re photographing birds, a telephoto lens is de rigueur, as was the case with the Great Grey Owl in Dairyland, Wisconsin.
For anything else, especially street photography, weddings and baptisms, or “everyday” photography, sticking to one camera, one lens, one film, and one developer means you carry less, shoot more quickly, and process and print your film more efficiently.
Using only one camera and one lens eliminates the need to decide which camera and lens to use. The decision to stay with one film simplifies your shoot because again, you don’t have to stop and think about whether you’re going to work in black and white or in color. Working in black and white eliminates color temperature problems, too – no need to worry about fluorescent lights coming out a bit green, or the yellow tinge associated with incandescent bulbs.
Tri-X is a good, all around film for bright daylight, cloudy days, and many indoor scenes. The images of the couple walking outside Notre Dame, the baptism, the wedding, the cowboy, and of Lucky the Jack Russell Terrier were all made on Tri-X film with a 35mm lens, developed in D-76 1:1, and printed on Ilford Multigrade paper.
Working with a shorter lens like a 28 or 35mm gives you the benefit of a bit more depth of field, and forces you to get up close and personal. As Robert Capa put it: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Using just one lens eliminates the need to change lenses and missing an exposure while changing lenses.
Working with a rangefinder camera and one lens – or a point and shoot – will allow you to work quickly and unobtrusively because small rangefinders and point & shoot cameras don’t stick out and attract the attention that a DSLR and 28-90 zoom do. Another benefit – you’ll “learn” what that lens does and be able to see potential pictures in mind’s eye.
And when it comes time to develop and print the film, an all around developer like D-76 will handle Tri-X exposed under almost any conditions, and allow you to standardize your processing and printing. If your negatives are exposed and developed consistently, you’ll find that you’re able to get a usable work print much more easily on the first sheet of paper.
Why process your own film? In the long run, it costs less, you get to do it the way you want, and in the words of Stanley Greene, “There’s nothing finer than putting a piece of paper in chemical and seeing an image come up. That’s magic. They used to burn people at the stake for that.”
While the vast array of equipment and film help interpret our view of the world, there’s a lot to be said for a simple, quiet approach to capturing the joy of living.
Bob Soltys took his camera along with seniors at Lew Wallace High School who walked out in 1971 to protest a teachers’ strike that would have prevented them from graduating. The weekly paper bought his pictures, launching a 40-year career capturing people and events on film. His photos have appeared in newspapers, in Sports Illustrated, and have been exhibited at the Beverly Art Center in Chicago and Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, Colorado. Bob’s images of Paris and of the West grace homes and offices worldwide, and are in the permanent collection at the John Rehner Gallery in Lakewood, Ohio.
Fifty percent of the proceeds from his book of Paris – The Art of Living and from A Lucky Life go to charitable endeavors, including Jack Russell Rescue.
You can find Bob online at: