PENTAX ME SUPER // 7.24.14

IMG_4664

So I decided I’m going to do mini camera profiles every once in a while because I want to blog more and because I have a ton of cameras that need some love.

This is my Pentax Me Super from the late 70′s early 80′s. It’s been re-covered with leather from Camera Leather. 35mm f/2.0. It’s one of my favorite cameras for personal reasons, but it’s also a spectacular small dslr. I actually prefer it to the Canon A-1 despite the lack of some manual control. My light meter is still working, which is a plus!

A picture from this one:

007

Ramblings // 7.20.14

I was scrolling through this blog a few weeks ago and came across some earlier posts when I actually used to write about my equipment and photographic adventures. As dorky as some of them were, I actually really miss writing about photography and sharing some stories and thoughts with my photos.

I don’t really know who reads my blog anymore, but there are several of you out there (whether I know you personally or not) who give constant support to my posts, and I just want to say thanks! It’s always encouraging to know that real people look at my pictures and read my occasional real blog posts.

Anyway, for any new people out there who have stumbled upon my website and hopefully stuck around for a bit, I’ll introduce myself and talk a bit about my photographic journey, if you will, haha. My name is Wen. I bounce between Los Angeles (home) and Boston (school) throughout the year. I started taking photography seriously in June, 2010. That summer, I discovered several photo albums of my old family photos. I was captivated by the tones, colors, grain, and aesthetic of the images taken by an Olympic Stylus and Pentax ME.

I bought a Canon T2i and quickly learned the various functions of a dslr and took thousands of pictures of friends, family, and vacation destinations. I definitely went through phases of severe, unnecessary over editing. High saturation, high contrast, over-filtered… My pictures felt so fake that I almost lost interest in photography completely. I missed the subtleties of the photographs I fell in love with. That’s when I turned to film. I found my dad’s old Olympic Stylus and Pentax ME, and picked up dozens of more cameras from thrift stores, garage sales, eBay, and family members. I’ve tried 35mm, Polaroid, medium format, and I learned to develop black and white film at home. I love everything about film photography. Well, almost. The cost part eventually got to me.

A few years later, I acquired a Fuji X100 and I think that little camera has had the biggest impact on my photography. It’s (almost) everything I loved about film without the inconvenience. The fixed lens made me think about the pictures I was taking. The camera is slow, yes, but in my opinion, that’s part of the charm. Coming from a dslr, the X100 made me slow down so much. Film made me realize, “quality versus quantity,” and that stuck with me as I began to use the X100. The X100 has survived Coachella, multiple adventures in Asia, concerts, beaches, and everything in between. It was everything I wanted in a camera until second semester of freshman year.

I somehow landed a photography internship with a Cambridge bicycle company in February. As a mechanical engineering major, this was pretty random, but it gave me an outlet for my interests and helped keep me sane during the school year of endless problem sets. From there, I started taking on more paid gigs with events and photoshoots. Without completely realizing it, I turned my hobby into something I could (partially) support myself with. The T2i struggled hard with these new projects that demanded fast shooting, low noise, high quality etc. It wasn’t long before I realized I would have to upgrade. So with all of the money I saved up over the course of the year, I bought a Canon 6D.

Where is this all going? Nowhere, really. This post is titled “Ramblings” after all. But after I started shooting with the 6D, I started thinking about my roots in photography and what inspires me–yeah, corny stuff. I thought about my over-editing phase and my resulting fear of photo-editing. That wasn’t meant to be dramatic. I edit almost all of my pictures. Curves, color-correcting, spot removal, etc. Editing is part of digital photography. Beyond that, however, I am honestly very self-conscious about editing “too much.” A lot of this is also because I’ve seen the work of some fellow photographers that in my opinion, has just been through too many Lightroom filters. It can look amateurish or gimmicky, which is not what I want when I take pictures.

I guess I’ve thought about this quite a bit. Photography is a visual art as well as a form of documentation. There are times when pictures are a representation of an artists vision and there are times when the camera is just a tool for capturing memories. Looking back, I realize my biggest struggle in photography is the balance between reality and vision. There are times when I expect my photographs to be perfectly exposed with crystal clarity. If I’m doing professional headshots or product photography, that’s how they will be. I’m not talking about when I am working for someone else’s vision. I’m talking about the times when I look at a vivid sunset and see grainy textures and beautiful, muted colors. On a digital sensor, this will look nothing like I want it to. So is it wrong to take a digital file and alter it until it’s what I envisioned? Isn’t that the point of photography? I hope so. Because as much as I love film (I still shoot medium format/slide film occasionally), I just can’t afford to take pictures of everything I want to.

What do you all think about post-editing? Is there such thing as over-editing? And is it wrong to try very hard to emulate the look of film on digital cameras?