Brendan Gara Photography

Black satin

I really like shooting with the big Mamiya 7ii.  I like the big negatives, I like the 6×7 format: not too long like 35mm, and not too much like hard work like the 5×4.  I like the shallow depth of field and smooth fall off you get with medium format, and I like the fact that you have to be fairly conservative with your film, 10 frames per roll.  The mamiya lenses are razor sharp and you can generally tell when you see them.  They suit a documentary style.  But.. that’s the thing I also don’t like about them, they’re just so sharp, even wide open at f4.

I love the fact that sharpness isn’t neccesary to make an image. In fact in most cases a tiny amount of blur or fuzziness can make an image stand out.  We rarely see things or remember things with complete clarity or in HD sharpness, so why strive for that in a photograph?  That’s my biggest criticism of black & white digital photography.  I can live with the compression of the black and white until it all becomes an overly grey dirge, but the fact that it is both painfully sharp and dull at the same time, just turns me off.

I bought a Tiffen Black Mist filter, a number 3, the most diffused I think (these are designed to reduce the sharpness in digital video capture and make things look more “film – like”) for the Mamiya and shot some daylight model shots.  I like them, they have a softness I’m surprised the mamiya lenses have captured.  I think I’ll keep them on and try some landscape work- who needs super sharp from the tips of your toes to the end of the world anyway.

Both Tri-X (250iso) Rodinal 1:100 90 minutes and Mamiya 7ii & 80mm f4 + black satin magic!

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