The value of photography

Photography has been a large part of my life ever since I got my first camera a few years ago. I wanted to have an SLR, but could never afford one. One day, passing a pawn shop, I found an analogue Minolta camera, and this opened up the world to photography to me. Now, a little while and a lot of learning from mistakes later, I realised the value of photography to me. Here’s what I think.

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Photography helped me slow down a lot. I started looking at the world more carefully, started noting colours and tones and appreciated everything a lot more.

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Using cameras, learning to use a whole new object from nothing and setting the shutter speed and aperture taught me that not everything has to succeed first try. Failing can be a lot more useful, as long as you try to learn what you did wrong.

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Photography allowed me to appreciate new things. Styles I never thought I would like, colours I never enjoyed and methods I never dared to use. I never thought I would like black and white. I never thought I would like street photography. I was wrong, and reading experiences and trying things made me change my mind.

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I can now capture more than an image. In the location above, for example, I always loved the lighting but I would have never been able to capture the feeling of that tunnel if I had never learned to use cameras properly. Photography can capture more than an image, it can capture moods, feelings and true emotions.

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Photography is also fun in day to day life, being able to capture those important to you in a certain way, in poses that express their personalities and with expressions that are dear to you.

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Photography is the art of patience, appreciation and looking. These are all things that we can learn a lot about in modern society, and photography almost turns into a philosophy, a way of life, in the way it influences and calms your mind. I have become a generally more patient person and I appreciate art and styles that I would have previously ignored a lot more than I would have ever thought.

The whole world is beautiful, unfortunately everyone moves to fast to notice it.

What are your thoughts? Do you have similar experiences? Love to hear them.

– Robin

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The Broke Photographer I: Shooting with Vintage Lenses

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Photography is an amazing hobby. After some experience, you look differently at the world in terms of shapes, compositions and colours. But man, photography is expensive. Chances are, if you don’t have a lot to spend or if you are just bad at saving like I am, that after you’ve finally bought that second hand camera, you don’t have hundreds of euros/dollars laying around to spend on additional lenses.

To get around this, I have some tips!

The solution, in my eyes, lies with certain lenses called ‘legacy’ lenses; vintage, outdated (hence: legacy) lenses which no longer natively fit on modern cameras, with one exception; but we’ll get to that.

Legacy

To me, the main legacy lens mounts are vintage Minolta (not the AF version) lenses, m42 lenses and finally Canon FD lenses. I do not have any experience with the Minolta lenses, so we’ll leave it at that.

m42

M42 lenses are vintage, screw-mount lenses which can be cheaply adapted to pretty much any system. Great thing is, these exist in a variety of price ranges, from under €30 for Russian “knock-off” lenses, the designs of which they took from Zeiss and such, up to more expensive, real deal Zeiss lenses. They are beautiful, often metal lenses with interesting names and nice quality optics. But, as with all legacy lenses, contrast can be lacking and chromatic aberration can be, unfortunately, not. Anyhow these lenses are amazing to use, especially the slightly up market, but still under a hundred, versions of any of the standard focal lengths, for example 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, etc.

Canon FD

I have used Canon FD glass for a while now on my Olympus OM-D E-M10 mark III, and I am happy! The lenses appear to be sharper and the build quality is a bit better than similarly priced m42 lenses. Handling is nice, manual focussing is a treat and the results, if you focus well, are lovely. I would really recommend these lenses, they made Canon great after all! The quality is just beautiful, and try getting all-metal lenses for under €75,- right now. Oh- and there are Canon FD L lenses, with the characteristic red ring, like the FD 50mm f/1.2 L.

A thing to look out for is the difference between Canon FD and FL lenses. The FL lenses are a bit older, but completely metal and glass and they feel amazing to use. Have a look at the Canon FL 58mm f/1.2, it’s beautiful and the aperture is amazing, especially for the price.

The exception

Nikkor D lenses. Nikon has always had the same Nikon F lens mount, so there are a lot of lenses if you have an adapter for this type of lens. But the Nikkor D lenses, which are still fairly new so the quality is pretty amazing, are great cheap-ish alternatives. The great thing about lenses with a D suffix is that they have manual aperture rings, but have more modern glass; a combination that you don’t see all too often but which is amazing. Because they are newer, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D will cost about the same as two FD equivalents, but they are beautifully sharp, and if you ever switch to a Nikon system, you have lenses ready with AF and electronic apertures; win-win!

Tips

Manually focussing, especially for doing street photography, can be a challenge if you are like me. I learned to zone focus; accept a slight lack of bokeh, whack that lens down to f/5.6, lenses are generally a lot sharper at that focal length anyway, and learn to zone focus! This results in amazingly sharp images without having to pause for focussing, and if you get good at guessing the distance between you and your subject, your in-focus zone could be between 1,5-2,5 metres, so you would still have an out-of-focus background! Great stuff.

A second recommendation I would make is to choose. That is, choose a mount, get the adapter and stick to lenses from your chosen system, be it MD, M42, FD or Nikon F. Saves moving adapters around and restricts unnecessary confusion.

Oh, and if you have some money left, have a look at Leica M or R lenses!

Some Dutch scenes

Instagram: Besidesphotography


These photos were taken today, August 15th 2018, with Chris van Keulen in Leiden. Thank you for having a look, I hope you enjoy my work.

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An artist at work
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Waiting
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One of my favourite places
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Liked this one
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Intense
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Love being at the wrong side of a ‘no entry’ sign

Thank you for looking at my work, follow my instagram or Chris‘ for more awesome photography.

Love,

Robin.

My first bit of Black and White

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I have never liked black and white photography, I have always thought that it was a way to be able to ignore focussing on colours. I thought that it was lazy. I finally tried making some black and white photos once I got my Leica X1.

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My first black and white

Boy, was I wrong

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Wonderful

It is actually quite hard to get background separation with a 35mm lens.

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Street photography

Having to focus not on colours, but tones and brightness is so different from anything I have ever tried!

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Shaded from the sun

Yep, I like it.

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Bearding off

I would recommend that, if you haven’t tried black and white, to go out and shoot it. It’s pretty great, and the classic style is amazing!

Thank you for reading

Robin 🙂

 

 

New old camera

Hey all! I recently got a new (old) Leica X1, an old compact camera Leica made. It is so much fun to shoot with, the tonality in black and white made me finally understand this style. Though the colored photos are amazing too. Have a look!

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My first street photograph which felt like a real street photo to me
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Really like this one
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Nicely minimal
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A big one to end off with

Shooting with the Leica X1 is fun, especially with a 2 GB card, the slow operating and the limited card space makes it feel like a day out with film. Fun times!

Thank you for reading 🙂

-Robin

P.s

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Those colors though

Portrait of Gerrit-Jan de Bruyn

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Portrait of Gerrit-Jan de Bruyn

This is Gerrit-Jan de Bruyn. I met him during a trip organized by my mother’s work, and I’m glad that I did. It was amazing talking to him. He was born in 1932, lived through the war and experienced a lot from it. He had family on either side of the conflict during WWII, experienced insane situations and remembered it all. He said that it keeps him busy to this day. The thing he told me was this: “My life is made of two things: war and nature”. He studied ecology, made great efforts to maintain the dunes of the Netherlands and was granted knighthood in the order of Oranje-Nassau for this.

It was amazing talking to him, I cannot say this enough, people like him make you think about your own childhood and your own life. What I thought about mostly is the fact that I had never heard these stories in real life before, and hearing them was an eye-opening experience. And he is a great man.

Thank you for reading,

Robin

The pond at the court

Shot with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III and the Lumix 25mm f/1.7

Shot at the pond next to the court in the Hague, think of the underlying message what you wish. To me it is a beautiful contrast between pollution, the waste, order, the court, and beauty, the swan. Leave a comment with your thoughts, would love to hear!

Greets,

Robin.

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