Going from 4000 to 400

Over the last twelve months I went from 4000 to 400. At about this time last year I was buying a used Mamiya RZ67 ProII medium-format camera outfit. It came with all the accessories I could want and the romance of film was a treat for having worked so hard and saved so long. My digital outfit is a Canon 30D with a variety of macro, wide-angle and telephoto-zoom lenses.  This is the setup that a year ago created over 4000 images. This year, I have created 400 and it is all because of that fateful Mamiya acquisition.

As a teenager I would run around with my black Olympus OM-2n wishing that one day I would find myself with a Mamiya. It was what I saw in magazines and my medium-format camera experience went from a Yashicamat TLR to a Rolliflex TLR – a story all of its own. I had nice equipment, so the Mamiya was not an obsession, more of a dream. I love Lamborghini cars and one day I will have one. For now, it is a dream.

My first few shots with the RZ were using the Polaroid back. Polaroid had announced earlier in the year that it would stop manufacturing instant film, which was fine, I loved the results from Fujifilm even better. In the first weeks, I ran through a few packs of expired Polacolor and started to realize two very important things. First, I needed a better tripod. The Mamiya RZ is heavy and my little tripod was not up for the task. Second, I needed a light meter. Using the digital camera to do meter readings was cumbersome at best and I was still often left compensating for the film characteristics. I knew I needed these things, but I waited to make sure.

Lesson: If you can afford it, do not wait, just get what you need. It moves the conversation away from the gear and into the art of making images. The catch is in knowing what you need.

This is how it all began. The dream unleashed the sleeping giant which has compelled me to share my journey on the hybrid photography jet-stream. I know I am not alone, and yet we are scattered in our sharing.

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