Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...
Though the big professional zooms are heavy and not as sharp as
primes, they encourage experimentation. At right is a standard
portrait from New York, captured down near
the 70mm end of the lens. With a quick twist, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
lens is capable of
producing the image at left (sadly the negative was damaged
by the Duggal lab in New York).
Miscellaneous Images with the 70-200, mostly in uncontrolled
environments where the ability to blur the background by going to
200/2.8 was essential....
6x6: Give your subjects some room
The rectangular format of most cameras encourages photographers to crop
rather tightly around a subject's face or torso. The 6x6 cm square
format encourages you to give subjects a little bit of space.
George on the carpeted floor of an office building. Hand-held, Tri-X
film. It seemed like a good idea to crop out some of the carpet with
Adobe Photoshop. After all, this is supposed to be a photo of the
dog, not of commercial carpet. As the cropping tool was being
adjusted, an an art director from Hearst Magazines walked by. He
grabbed me by the shoulders and shook until I became convinced that it
was the space in front of the dog that made the photo work.
Roommates. Sadly marred by a technical flaw: the
reflector edge in the lower left corner of the frame.
Reading. From Cape Cod. This was
taken with the 80mm lens, a normal focal length for 6x6. If you're not
trying to fill the frame with the subject's face, you don't
need a telephoto lens to avoid an unflattering perspective. In medium
format, this can result in big savings. A telephoto lens for a
Hasselblad or Rollei 6000 is about $4000!
My grandfather Nick Gittes
Cousin Douglas and wife Leslie at Harry and Katerina's wedding. Fuji NPH low-contrast wedding film, Canon EOS-3, 28-70/2.8L lens
Pictures that I'm too lazy to write about
(but that might give you a good idea)
If you're still using film...
Most people probably look better in black and white. If you want
the sharpest results, you'll get them with Agfapan 25, Kodak TMAX-100,
and Kodak BW400CN. Kodak's ancient TRI-X emulsion has enough grain
that it may flatter certain subjects. You will probably find that
TRI-X in the 35mm format yields grain that is simply too obtrusive.
TRI-X works very well in 120 or 4x5 size, however.
If you're doing color, you'll want subtle tones, low color saturation,
and low-ish contrast. Good places to start in the color negative
world are the Kodak Portra films, Fujicolor Pro 160S, and
Fujicolor Pro 400H. For color slides, try Fuji Astia or