After dropping Sweetheart off at her place I drove to Walsoorden, Zeeland, in the Netherlands.
I shot a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus with the new Holga 120WPC and used my Ricoh GR II with 2 ND-1024 filters to shoot some long exposures. Combining these two filters give me an exposure time of 4 minutes. The Ricoh goes to 5 minutes before you need a release cable.
I used my Olympus OMD M-10 with a 45-150mm for some landscapes.
The afternoon was great and the weather more than okay. I had my T-shirt in my camera bag when I arrived at a breakwater. I walked the some 80 meters to its end and said hi to a fisherman.
Set up my tripod and made a few long exposures of a small lighthouse.
There was a nosy seal and then the fisherman asked what I was photographing so I explained in simple terms what long exposures are.
“Be careful, that huge container ship will make some serious waves”, he told me pointing to something behind me.
Wow, I cannot remember having seen such a huge container ship. It lay high on the water, navigating very close to the riverside before making a turn to go around the breakwater.
I had finished shooting the small lighthouse and stored the ND-filters and the Olympus OMD M-10 in my bag without closing the top. I grabbed my tripod with the Ricoh GR II still mounted on it.
“Bye,” I said to the fisherman, “wish you good luck and hope you’ll catch something. “
He smiled and at the same time he said hi to some people who came towards him. Relatives or friends, so it seemed.
At the end of the breakwater, at the dike, I stopped and put my camera bag and tripod down in order to make a photo of the ship and the people standing at the end of the breakwater. They are so small that I put a red circle around them.
I crouched, the MSC Chloe and framed the Ricoh for another long exposure. The ship was now out of the image. I pressed the shutter and then, suddenly, I heard a roaring sound coming from my right.
I turned around and saw to my consternation a wave running towards me with sickening speed. The wall of water was at least 75 centimeters high.
I took my tripod and lifted the camera bag up seconds before the flood reached me. What an amazing power and I found it very difficult to keep my balance. My T-shirt was still on the ground and I saw it been swept away with raging madness.
I managed to jump higher on the dike, to safety. Hell, I could have lost my gear or been pulled in the water.
Then I looked at the breakwater. The fisher and two other men were running towards the water as 3 women had been pulled into the 3 kilometer broad Westerschelde. One lady had drifter rather far from the breaker.
It made no sense to go and help as I was to far and seconds later the women were in safety again. One of them seemed to have a nasty cut in her leg. It was hard so see from where I was standing but the red was quite obvious.
I’ll never again underestimate the waves a huge ship that comes close to the coast can cause.
Later that day, back home, I was happy with the long exposures I took with the Ricoh and I’ll be sharing with the next few posts.
I developed the film I shot with the Holga 120WPC and was disappointed. The day had been bright and sunny and I had made 6 exposures using different exposures ranging between 10” and 30”. The film came out of the development tank being crystal clear. Come to think of it, not even frame numbers of Ilford HP5 so I guess I must have done something wrong.
It may sound stupid but the image of this powerful wall of water rushing towards me, muddy and swirling, has been haunting me past night and even at moments today.
I am very happy the people on the breakwater also survived. Hell, pushed over, falling on your side, breaking something or hitting your head on the stones before being pulled in the water… it could have been much worse.
Olympus OMD M10 with Olympus 45-150mm
Sunday, July 3.
I am exhausted. Yet I am very happy. Little A. and I spend the afternoon in Antwerp. Shops were open because it was the first weekend of the summer sales. My youngest daughter and her BFF did some shopping and I hit the streets. It feels like I walked a zillion miles.
After 300 shots the Ricoh GR II battery died on me so I connected the camera with a power bank and switched to the Olympus OMD M10 with the excellent and razor-sharp 45mm f1,8. This lens is not usable in a crowded city. After all it is a 90mm on a full-frame. On a bright sunny day you can’t use it wide open though. The Olympus is limited to 1/4000 and ISO 200 so you need a ND filter. I have a cheapo one but it gives a very nasty color cast. If you shoot in raw there is no problem though.
I found myself a spot on a public square and used the 90mm to isolate interesting subjects. At a few crosswalks this small telephoto lens came in quite handy too.
So 300 shots with the Ricoh and 80 with the Olympus.
Quite a few of the Ricoh images are not sharp though and that is my fault entirely. I like to use the camera in snap mode. You set a focusing distance, 2 meters for example, and at f8 your depth of field goes from about 0.70m to 5m. As the camera is prefocused there is no shutter lag.
Antwerp Central Stations has a 4 levels. The upper ones are bright, the lower ones darker. So there I opened my aperture a little more but came closer to my subjects.
Then I found an interesting spot where I stood for a while waiting for that distinctive moment when everything falls together. Unfortunately I forgot to adjust my aperture back to f8 or f10 so most of these images are not in focus.
Street photography offers so many great moments. That guy for example, noticing how I captured his wife while she made a photograph of the entrance gate of Chinatown (in Antwerp) and presented himself as a street photographer and asked what camera I was using. We had an interesting conversation.
Or that couple, suddenly he went on his knees. She was so embarrassed. I was to far to hear what she said but I made the shot. You can’t see the ring though, that he is showing her.
Twin babies in a buggy being fed. A bottle is presented by dad, the other by mom. He looks at his offspring, she looks at a guy who passed by. Yeah, I got that.
This image was made at a crosswalk. On the other side of the road people where waiting for the green light. I noticed an opportunity. I waited and it happened. I fired twice, the latter being the best representation of what I had seen in my mind’s eye. I waited for the decisive moment when all fell into place.
People move towards me as a spear and I feel there is an interesting juxtaposition.
I’m looking forward to use one of my Olympus OM camera’s to do some street photography. I’m thinking of an Ilford HP5+ pushed 2 stops for example. The only thing that keeps me from using an analogue camera is the fact I’d prefer having a 28mm f2,8 to replace the 28mm f3,5 I currently own.
I’ve been browsing a well-known second-hand website and yesterday I finally found one with a reasonable asking price. So I made a bid and he answered it was okay. He is a seller that lives not far from my place and I’ve already did some business with him. He is correct, his goods are almost in mint state and he is very friendly and helpful.
So he asked if I’d care for a 35mm f2,8 too, for the same price as the 28mm. I’ve been thinking about it by I’m guessing I’ll be going for the wide-angle only. I don’t see much use for a 35mm in my style of photography. Well, I haven’t made up my mind yet, 90€ for 2 great primes is not all that bad.
When I hit the street with the Olympus I’ll be taking the 50mm f1,4 with me too. Wide-open this lens is simply gorgeous.
I am pretty sure though that my Ricoh GR II will remain pretty much my main camera and one of the best camera’s I have ever owned (for general purpose photography).
Saturday in the afternoon I hit the streets. An important bicycle race could lead to interesting street photographs.
I am not very happy with the results though. For some reason I felt disconnected from what was happening around me.
Sweetheart also noticed it, on Saturday evening when we went out. She too felt that I was not there really.
I must say I am a little worried but I know it is still to soon for the SSRI’s to really kick in.
I enjoyed the chase more than taking pictures. Looking and observing gives me more pleasure than taking an image. I am aware street photography is still new to me and I need to find my voice.
That will take some time and in the mean time I shoot and learn and try to find my angle.
The fields look beautiful. Specs of white, blue, yellow and green. Some parts of nature simply look like an impressionist paining.
Birds fly around, beaks holding a mix of insects and worms, delicious meals for their offspring.
A zillion spots of light turn the woods into magic. They are turned on and off on the rhythm of the passing clouds covering the sun.
This is a beautiful time to be outside. It is a time of promises of new life and a soon to come harvest. I enjoy this time of the year, when everything is still fresh and green and colorful.
I am still at home. Still suffering from a bore-out I a not capable of functioning very well on a professional level yet. I don’t feel depressed really but, well, I don’t know how I feel exactly.Today I’ve started taking a SSRI (serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors) but it will take about 2-3 weeks before it takes effect.
Past Monday was a holiday.
In the morning I visited our local market. Although it was chilly and overcast the street was crowded.
I had my Ricoh GR II with me but I wasn’t very inspired and, well, I don’t like overcrowded places. I took a few shots and I liked the one with the lady.
I shot this when she reached for her sunglasses to get a closer look at something behind me. She did not notice me really and seemed to look right through me. It looks like she is interacting with me but she is not.
I went home and shortly after noon I went back but decided to try something different so I grabbed my Olympus OM-D M-10 and the very sharp Zuiko 45mm f1,8 lens. The camera’s screen tilts so I did not need to use the viewfinder.
Sun was now shining and that is something to take in account when shooting with a very fast lens.
Once back on the street I immediately regretted my choice. The camera felt completely different and not at all easy to use with one hand. Even if the camera’s body is not bigger that the Ricoh, for me the lens and the viewfinder made it huge. I felt awkward and had the impression I was kind of a sitting duck, the more than obvious photographer with a red neon arrow pointing down at me.
It was all in my head because nobody noticed me really.
The 45mm (90mm in full-frame) makes it easy to shoot from a distance and gives a very nice DOF.
I had to focus for every shot there where the Ricoh can be set in Snap-mode so it is already pre-focused but you lose the already almost non-existent depth-of-field of a 28mm.
The Zuiko 45mm f1,8 is extremely sharp wide-open already but I set the aperture at f2,8 because the Olympus OM-D M-10 has a native ISO of 200 and a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th. You need a ND-filter on a bright day. The Ricoh offers ISO 100 and f2,8 and has a built-in ND-filter you can set to off, on or automatic.
I made some interesting shots but back home I discovered that, except for the one I’m posting, none were really sharp.
Will I be taking the Olympus with me on the streets again? Maybe but it will be sitting in my camera bag and I’ll only use it to frame something interesting I can’t approach.
Using the Olympus for street photography on the market was a very bad choice. It is a crowded place to begin with and a 45mm (90mm FF) is overkill.
Yet I learned something very important and valuable. I really love to come close to people and I’m steadily improving my skills to come even closer.
On the other hand I should ask people if I can take their portrait more because from my past two and only experiences this leads to a short yet interesting interaction.
Driving back home, this evening, after dropping off Little A. at boarding school, I suddenly dawned to me.
Since I started posting on my blog again and holding an analogue camera in my hands after six months of paralyzing fear for the image, I am desperate for a project, an idea, a goal.
When I look back on my 10 or so recent posts and the ones I prepared for the coming week, I notice how it is a little bit of everything. Landscape, urban landscape, cemetery stuff, a few close-ups, “street photography”.
Nothing consistent though yet that is what I need. Something to put my teeth in like a pit-bull and document and explore.
I feel like a kid in a candy store, not knowing what to try first. Yet I know I need to find something I can connect with, something I want to discover and explore even further. If not I’ll be back in photographer’s block in a jiffy.
So I need a theme, a subject but I haven’t a clue. I feel like a blind man walking around , already happy not falling over some obstacle. But without any direction nevertheless.