Since using my Canon 1DX MkII I am very well aware just how far cameras have come in terms of handling noise in the images you take even in a 6 year old design, newer models of all brands are even better still. However I am more interested in the images I take than the kit I use to take them with which is what this post is about in the main.
As you get older time seems to fly by and I am never too sure whether I am ‘busy’ or just a lot slower at getting things done but then again I might just be genuinely busy with a number of projects on the go at the same time.
Ignoring playing with 4k video on my 1DX MkII which I will write up at a later time because there are some interesting issues there plus some experiments with flash photography which I will also write up after I have completed them, my main immediate focus is on Black & White images and some early season 720nm Infrared.
Now whilst you can and I do, shoot infrared images anytime of the year, my favourite period is undoubtedly the Summer months when there is a lot of foliage on the trees and bushes. Such images can be processed as ‘normal’ infrared or, provide the basis for some excellent black and white prints.
The Path to Here…
It is because I have such wide interests I suppose that they frequently seem to overlap and often in the strangest ways. As per a previous post, I have this year returned to drawing and am delighted with the progress I am making after so many years however it is not just about the actual process of drawing, there is also the media that you use be it pencil, pen, charcoal, Conte crayon, gouache and so on plus the very papers you draw on.
Although I have gradually introduced colour to my work, mainly I have been working in black and white. For reasons too complex to explain at this stage, I started by drawing male and female heads and as my confidence has grown started to switch to three dimensional shapes the better to develop my pen and pencil style. This has led me to becoming even more focused on working in black and white primarily for now.
Part of the reason behind this is to sharpen up my “ink line work” so that I can make a successful transition to drawing on a computer using a tablet and stylus instead of pen and paper. For now though and in order to improve in the analogue world of real paper and ink, I could work from black and white photographs to develop my technique.
I have an original Canon M body which I had converted to 720nm infrared some years ago. I also have a Canon M10 which I had converted to a Full Spectrum camera however this didn’t work out too well. Although I used the same business that did the 720 conversion, but it was doing the pandemic lockdown, they lost staff, it took forever and never worked properly at any level. Now whilst this was rather annoying, playing around with it I found that with a few adjustments, I could use it as a truly excellent black and white camera.
We have had a very on and off Spring this year and whilst nature is bravely battling through, it is not quite the Sun and foliage conditions I prefer for infrared however, it is fine for pure black and white photography so I will take the M10 out with me. However having decided that, something else sprang to mind which was all rather odd.
Among my camera collection there are some that have no trade in value at all and one of these is a Canon 450D 12mpx DSLR that I purchased back in 2010. It saw a lot of use, travelled to the States with me and did many airshows as well as wildlife and landscapes but was eventually replaced by a Canon 7D. Although using mirrorless cameras to shoot in Black & White seems an obvious thing to do, I had never bothered to even think of using a DSLR in that way. The primary reason being that with mirrorless cameras, if you switch to monochrome, the viewfinder is also monochrome which is what you want for framing and composition. Whereas with DSLRs unless you shoot using the back screen referred to as “Live View”, what you see through the viewfinder is still in colour.
But as I have been shooting B&W film on 35mm for these past few years, I guess that I feel that my ‘eye’ is in on this issue so the 450D is now back in play ! Hello old friend. Okay it is true that you can take any colour image you like a process it in post production to be black & white…
One of the things that struck me quite strongly came when I unloaded the pictures I took using the 450D, the images were amazingly sharp. It is a far slower camera than the ones I normally use on a daily basis and far less sophisticated but it is still a complete bundle and works very well within its limitations. If required, a timely reminder that it is the person behind the camera who is the most important element in deciding the quality of the images and not the camera. Here a small gallery of images: