I am a traditionalist. This may seem a little strange for someone who spent their entire career in technology but it’s certainly true. I suspect it stems from my father who was a craftsman, a joiner in fact, with a very traditional, manual approach. I like to do some things the old way. As a result, I stuck with real film cameras until just two years ago when, spurred on by others and by the time required to digitize film through a scanner, I finally jumped into the digital SLR market with a Canon EOS 40D. I’m very glad I did ‘cos I couldn’t take half the wildlife pictures I now take using slow old Fuji Velvia slide film, beautiful though it was. This hovering Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator), for example, is not practical at ISO 50. It was actually shot at ISO 800, f8 at 1/1000th sec.
Whilst still in film mode, I fell in love with images obtained (by professionals, I hasten to add) using a stonkingly beautiful medium format panoramic landscape camera called the Fuji GX617. This beast produces images that measure 6×17 cm images on a 120/220 roll film, be that negative or positives (as in slide film). A 120 film takes only 4 images, 220 manages 8 Unfortunately, as well as being unwieldy, the camera and its associated lenses cost about £10K so I just drooled and admired pictures from the likes of David Noton.
Enter: the flexibility of digital processing at home.
We’ve just returned from a trip around France where I found a couple of landscape views that seemed to be crying out for the 6×17 format so I deliberately shot them with the intention of cropping them down chez moi. BTW, I’ve sized the main images linked to these thumbnails, at 1000 pixels wide so they should fit on a typical 1024-pixel screen.
The first image I couldn’t resist was of this man wading back, apparently out of the sea, to his tractor. I love the sense of isolation and confusion, though maybe the latter is just me. “What’s going on here, then?” Actually, just off shot to the left are his mates in a small fishing boat waiting to be recovered by him and the tractor. He’s actually walking up a flooded concrete ramp.
Rather more obvious is this very traditional (other than the 6×17 format) touristy shot of Rocamadour. Without this format it is difficult to show both Rocamadour on one side of the valley and the opposing cliffs without too much sky at the top and/or green fields at the bottom.
Farming provided my next opportunity and is really the land-based equivalent to the fisherman shot above. Our favourite dairy sheep farm at Fanjeaux is in very picturesque countryside but the width of this view would again give far too much sky and/or cornfield on a traditional 35mm (3×2) format. On the far left horizon is the church tower of Fanjeaux itself whilst on the right is our host’s neighbouring farm. The harvester is sandwiched nicely between the two.
The same dairy sheep farm has a lake for irrigation purposes and the lake supports a healthy population of Odonata. Damselflies tend to indulge in massed ovipositing, large groups of pairs all trying to lay eggs at once to ensure the continuation of the species. The groups are often too deep to get everything in focus but on this occasion the group was relatively wide but shallow. This also seems to work in good ol’ 6×17 format. Most, if not all of these are Small Red-eyed Damselflies (Erythromma viridulum).
I do most of my cropping in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional these days ‘cos I shoot RAW and who should understand Canon RAW better than Canon? Of course, to make a decent print of such pictures would require an A3 printer and probably a few more pixels than my EOS 40D. I’ll just have to wait until the new kit turns up. 😉