Be Inspired

Lightweight landscape photography with a reportage head

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By CAMILLE MCMILLAN

Epic mountains.
Granite walls clung to by a finger…
Night sleeping in a hammock hung by Carabiners on a vertical 500m drops.
Scaling a waterfall turned to ice in -10 conditions, Ice axes, crampons.
The north face of the Eiger.
Base jumping.
No, no thanks, not for me…

I live in and love the mountains, the French Pyrenees. I am very happy to climb , walk and explore, but when the need for Carabiners and ropes happen, that’s when I take another route. I’m not an Alpinist, this makes me a lightweight, and as I’m a lightweight I wish to carry lightweight kit. No “Landscape photographers bad back” for me.

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Recently I took a trip to the other side of France, the Alpes-Maritimes, tracing the old border of France and Italy. A border that shifted with the end of WW2. The old border line in the Alpes-Maritimes are on ridges, peaks or cols, sometimes on the road, but mostly the car can only get you so far, then its hiking.

I approach landscape photography with a reportage head. I am not the kind of photographer that has the patients or time to hang around at a location, ponder, wait for the light, pause for dusk or sleep out all night for dawn. Maybe I’m not a proper landscape photographer, maybe I just lack the patience, I am however very much interested in narrative, the Journey.

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When on my journey, I see something, I stop and take a picture and move on. Hopefully the light is good on the subject at that moment. I’m much more about the story. That’s where the X100T is so good. I see the work I’m doing now as a journal, making notes. Maybe some day I could return with more equipment (a tripod ) maybe even camp out the night , but only with light kit, keeping the no humping kit bad back rule.

I shoot jpegs now (I spoke about in my last entry) and I’m right back to my early E6 (transparency film) days, I bracket. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of bracketing and would have been horrified that I am shooting jpegs.

The f-stop bracketing with the X100T is great, 1/3rd of a stop work really well. This is not ‘in camera ‘ processing for a bracket, its a true 3 exposure event. I struggled with this at first as I would start to move looking for the next picture before the 3rd shot had fired. I am learning to be patient.

For me its important to know which in film simulation to use and not just shoot with the very seductive Classic Crome or the old school landscape photographers favourite Velvia (Even if you can shoot it at 800 ASA !) You can bracket film simulation modes with the X100T, and it is a one exposure event. Film simulation bracketing is a very good learning tool on how the different film simulations will look in different lights, however you can not Film simulation bracket and f-stop bracket at the same time. In my opinion, the characteristics of the film stock very much influences how the story is read. I make the decision which film simulation to use on a project and keep it that way. Sometimes the film simulation I have chosen is not the best for the light in a situation, but I feel the continuity of the colour and tonal range is of an over riding importance. Okay, you can call me old school.

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I’m not the photographer that enjoys the capture one / light-room / photoshop part of photography. I just want to get the image correct in camera and then print it. The dream is to send it to the printer from in the field…

I should however invest in an ND grad filter, Seven 5 by Lee filter probably and the WCL-X100 wide conversion lens, a pro ipad and a carbon tripod.

I’m searching for perfection in camera and escape the tyranny of post production.


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