Photography: Colour, Shape, Contrast – Black & White, and Artistic Effects

Idle photo jottings – colour, shape, contrast, specific artistic effects – experimenting and ‘painting’ with your camera.

(Please click on images for larger and higher res  reproductions)

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This Still Life photo – and the next  – were taken using a fabulous Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens.  They show the results achieved by distressing the front element of the lens.  In  this case – the element was sand-blasted!  


When I found this lens, I wondered anyone would deliberately ‘ruin’ such a famous high-quality lens.  I’d heard – and read – that this manner of ‘distressing’ lenses was to achieve a mystical, slightly hazy effect – and, as you can see, this is exactly the result achieved using this equipment. The degree of haziness –  blur – call it what you will – alters with the setting of the f stops of the lens: sharpest when closed right down – haziest when wide open.  I understand this effect was very popular with Fashion Photographers of the 1960s – and maybe long before. Razor-sharp focus was deliberately shunned. 

The choice of camera is a very personal preference, and I’m always more comfortable when I’m using a camera I know well. For many years I used a Asahi Pentax SLR with its razor-sharp 50mm Takumar lens, A Tour Company then gave me a Canon T70, and I used it extensively with Kodachrome 25ASA – if and when I could get it. Then I came by a Leica III (screwmount) body and used Elmar, Summar, and Summitar lenses with that camera; – and then with a few other Leica bodies that came my way. Later, I bought myself a Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder and used the Leitz lenses (Elmar, Summar, and Summitar) with that. Eventually I realized I had to move with the times and added Digital to the list of hardware.

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Bathing Huts – mmm – an old cliche….    Winter sun and wind from the north : a chill in the air – no one at the bathing huts

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Digital – but it ain’t summer! Lousy weather – wind and rain – but still we can find interesting photographic  material. These pebbles – constantly hurled around and weathered by the sea – all different shapes and sizes – and all millions of years old.


Better morning, but I was up late and didn’t get the sunrise


… and it got better…

Even now, however, if I’m going out on a photo-shoot, I almost always take a manual film camera with me; a camera without any built-in exposure paraphernalia. For this I prefer a well-used Leica IIIc with a Summitar lens for colour and a Summar f2 if I’m using B&W film. My Bessa and a Pentax P30T (I use it with a Pentax 28-80mm lens) are also in my bag, and a pocket digital for ease and convenience. The Leicas were designed by Oscar Barnaack as 35mm pocket cameras, and his baby caught the imagination of photographers worldwide. Many SLR’s – digital and film – are now far from being ‘pocket cameras’.  and so I just use a small camera that slips easily into the pocket of my trousers.  It’s not ‘state-of the Art’ – but I know it and like it – and the results it will produce when my eye is working. The only thing I dislike about the pocket digital is the lack of viewfinder; a common cause of complaint with the small digital cameras: at times it’s impossible to see anything on the screen under the glare of bright sunlight.

Oh – and another point: – the Leica and Bessa bodies fit snugly against my face – eyebrow, nose and cheekbone – so I can usually manage OK without a tripod. To use the Ricoh like that I take a look at the image on the screen – choose the size I want – and then use it as the Leica – as if using my right eye – but just looking ahead at the subject with my left eye.  I almost always use both eyes with a standard viewfinder camera, anyway.  I understand there are viewfinders that can be attached to the top of the cameras, but that would make the camera more awkward to fit a pocket. And if the image is a bit off-skew, I can adjust it with a photo-editing programme.  We achieved the same result in the old film darkrooms, –  cropping and adjusting the image.


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So it’s night – and it’s raining!?  Perfect! Grab your camera and get out there…

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Country train at Central Station, Sydney, Australia. This is what an old Leica II screwmount camera – and a Summar lens – can still capture, even when hand-held


Iconic Aussie Homestead om the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  Leica II – Summar lens


The Fish River – New south Wales. Asahi Pentax SLR – Takumar lens

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The brig arc of light – St Angelo Floodlit


The images below were all taken with a small pocket digital camera I bought second-hand for £1 – a ridiculous bargain! – but they are out there – and – as you can see – some of the images  have been cropped radically to create the image I wanted.  I would have done the same with images from my film camera.

I only rarely – VERY rarely – use flash.





Seen Though A Glass Darkly


Wet Window

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Bush Lattice


Around the house









In The Bush – Australian Tree bark




Contrasts – in the NSW Southern Highlands of Australia



Cottage Gardens: Lavatoria Cottages in Burton’s St Leonard’s-on-Sea, East Sussex, UK. But how much longer before those gardens – like so many front gardens in the UK – are ripped up and destroyed to create parking space for yet more cars?




 Copyright Rob Weatherburn 2015