Blog #96 What’s your :DEFAULT: ?
Most photographers whether you are just starting out, a hobbyist, proper amateur, or a professional for many decades have a default. A default is the “usual” or standard of some type in terms of gear. For me, it’s 35mm black and white film. Without a specific project or commercial activity that I am working on in a given day, I will stuff one of my Nikon F-something SLRs or perhaps a Leica rangefinder mated to a 28mm with a roll of Kodak’s TMAX 400 and head out into the world. I will occasionally shoot with a 35mm, 50mm (or zoom lens around the same range) and I do shoot colour film from time to time, but that’s my default. Yes, I’m old school but not all of the time. My default digital is the Fujifilm X-E3 with a 28mm lens.
There is a sense of familiarity and predictability that using my default package affords me. I know where all of the buttons, dials, and focus rings are one the camera bodies, for one. I am intimately familiar with these three focal lengths which are not very different for starters, and I have a good feel for 400 speed black and white film and its capabilities in changing light conditions.
There are those who will advocate for using the same focal length for one year. If there is such as thing as Photographic ADD I definitely have it. Maybe I’ve gone one whole month with the same lens and same camera…at the most. I used to have a tendency to change lenses fairly often like week to week usually. These days I stick to one focal length for a bit more time. I agree with those single-lens zen photographers that there are many benefits to going steady with one focal length.
For personal projects or just for the hell of it, 35mm black and white film is where its at for me. It’s timeless. It’s what I grew up on and it still looks awesome to me. After a fair period of experimenting with cameras, lenses and films as well as digital versions of the same, I have found my “happy place”, my default.
Experiment and then know your default. Committing to a type of default is a type of restriction that may, in turn, spur on your creativity. This sounds counterintuitive, granted, but it works.
So what’s your default package? Please do share here or on my Facebook page. Maybe a survey is on the horizon? Whatever your default is, enjoy it and exploit it.
The light is always right.
*Images here are from Hong Kong and made with a Nikon SLR, a 28mm wide angle lens, Kodak 35mm black and white film (probably TMAX 400) and developed at home*