|Models: Taisen Blackwolf and Michelle Grace Hunder|
Camera: Ricoh GRDIII
Our Creative Photo Workshops events are popular. We are often asked to repeat them - in the same city, and in different cities around the country and even around the world. Our Film Noir event is perhaps the most popular so far. It is even being copied, so I hear, by friends in other cities. That's ok. Imitation is the best compliment after all.
Last week, we repeated our Film Noir event - for one person. Yes, folks, one of our customers had been unable to attend either of our two Melbourne Film Noir shoots and so she booked us to run the thing for her. In the end, she brought a friend along. So, Glynn, David Oakley and I spent the evening at Abbottsford Convent once again setting up the lights and the fog machine, dressing up our models and teaching our two customers not to be afraid of the dark. After all, darkness is what Film Noir is all about.
It was a perfect night for Film Noir. It was actually dark and stormy. Don't all the movie narrations and gangster novels start that way? So, I wasn't complaining at all. The scene was set! Arriving at the Convent, I realised that I had left my gadget bag and all my DSLR equipment at home. Silly me! I was all dressed up with no place to go. Or was I? You see, I don't really need my equipment at a workshop, other than to perhaps shoot for fun and blogging and lead by example. But we usually get a base shot and then hand over to our customers. It would appear that I couldn't even do that. At first I considered that I have done this event twice before and it really didn't matter too much. Secondly, I could devote my time and thoughts to the process of exclusively assisting our two customers that night. Glynn and I are very hands on at our workshops, making sure that the group is looked after as an entity, but also that each person's needs are met to the best of our abilities. Perhaps tonight was going to be a chance for me to just teach and not shoot. I was just going to have to settle for that.
However, I did have one back up. I carry my Ricoh GRDIII with me pretty much everywhere. I love that thing. To me, it is the perfect compact camera for the DSLR shooter. I believe it has been designed specifically for that very purpose and place within the market. It is ruggedly built, has a 28mm (equiv) f 1.9 fixed lens, complete manual override (with dials, not menu options) and a 10 MP sensor. It shoots in Adobe DNG RAW also, and so the possibilities for quality are seriously improved. It is well designed for the DSLR user and the images it produces are wonderful. Because the lens is fixed, it has no need for optical compromises. Also, because the camera is compact and has an f1.9 lens, you can hand hold the little beastie in very dimly lit conditions without having to raise the ISO.
The great thing about being limited in this way - not having my DSLR and my bevy of lenses - is that you are compelled to previsualise in one particular way. You have only one focal length to work with and it therefore simplifies your choices. You know where you need to stand. You know how you need to compose. You know what you can do, and what you can't. That is what I love about fixed focal length lenses. They teach you to see because they offer you only one option. I would suggest that every photographer try their hand at using lenses that cannot zoom. Knowing how a lens sees and having to use your feet to move backward and forward, positioning yourself in the right place for the right composition has been a valuable lesson for me. While I do love my zoom lenses, I know that it is not my place to simply stand anywhere I like and zoom in and out for my own convenience. I realise that I need to select the focal length first and then position myself according to it, and not the other way around. For this reason, I often use my zooms at their extremities. Funny, that.