San Francisco, September 2018: Mamiya C330.
By Dirk Dom
My all-time favorite city is San Francisco. Over the years I’ve been going there about ten times, six times so far especially for photography. Every time I take a different camera.
This time it was the Mamiya C330 pro, a twin lens reflex from the seventies which shoots medium format, 6×6.
I felt like color and in three weeks I shot 40 films (480 images) on Kodak Ektar 100. This color negative film is just magnificent!
This camera of mine has a bit of history. I bought it with all seven lenses about ten years ago and shot lots of Velvia slides. Then I got into medium format rangefinders and I gave it to a friend as a wedding present. (He’s not divorced yet!) Two years ago I wanted it back and I bought a mint body with the 80 and 180mm lens for €350. I also wanted the 55mm lens which cost €290, and I was set again.
Because I love shallow DOF shots and wanted to shoot wide open with the minimum 1/500 shutter time (medium format bokeh is always gorgeous) I shot about half of my images through a 2 stop ND filter, effectively limiting sensitivity to 25 ASA.
As a light meter I used either the little Gossen Digisix II (reflective or incident) or, when light got too crazy, I used the Sunny f/16 rule. All my shots were properly exposed and I got only one misfocused one, not bad!
I scanned the shots and selected the 130 best, post processed those and got them printed.
If you have read this this far, you may want to see some results. Here they are:
I was there during Fleet Week, and of course I wanted a shot of the Blue Angels going underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, they didn’t even come near! So I shot myself an aircraft carrier. The little kids were more interested to play with the gravel under their feet than in these mighty ships!
The Golden Gate Bridge
Cruise ships are often so big they sort of dwarf the city.
Victorian houses, a fortune in paint must go onto them. That must be the reason they are so expensive in S.F.!
Coit Tower. The light in September is just gorgeous, a continuous Golden Hour from 9AM to 6 PM.
This is what I mean by ***Golden*** light. In situations like this I used the Sunny f/16 rule.
People crossing at the Ferry building. I just love the artefacts these old lenses give in crazy light!
Homeless person. I was there in 2017, too, and the amount of homeless people has increased by a factor of four at least since. Near Civic Center they line up the sidewalks by the hundreds. For the first time in S.F. I felt real bad walking there and that feeling didn’t go away. It’s horrible. I asked people and my 4X increase estimate is correct. Maybe it’s due to the policies of a certain recent U.S. president I can’t remember the name of at the moment. I also found out that a 1% rent increase in California gets you 2,500 more homeless people there.
Streetcar stop and building.
With the Mamiya I most of the time spend some minutes optimizing composition. I walk around my subject, searching, discovering, not satisfied until everything is perfect. Then I think: “Do I want to print this?” If not, I don’t take the shot. I was outside for ten hours a day and took three films a day with me (36 shots) I ran out of film twice before the end of the day, and I missed one shot I really wanted to take because got out of film. Especially that very last shot you’ve got makes you extremely selective which is sort of fun!
Construction shot through a mesh cloth.
Sausalito, across the bay. I often walked over ten miles, but just as often I progressed for hours at only 1 MPH, searching and composing and going back.
The C330 is a camera with few limits in close focus as it has 2 ½ inches of bellows draw. With the 55 and 80mm lenses it has almost 1:1 reproduction ratio at closest focus. I love to shoot flowers, and medium format + Ektar are really something else for that!
That last one was shot straight into the Sun (Sun just outside image) No way I could have correctly exposed such an amount of light, I just hoped for the best. The 180mm gives these crazy rainbow artefacts.
Walking around the coast and on beaches, the one below is in Pacifica.
My son is a rock hound, no lack of rocks near S.F!
San Francisco weather in September is nice, but at 6PM you want to don a coat. Cloudscapes fascinate me, this is the first time I shot them in color.
Fog rolling in over the hill at Sausalito. Sort of an apocalyptic sight.
My son makes medieval armor as a hobby, he uses a helmet as a chimney.
Well, that’s it, hope you enjoyed them, and, get out there and shoot!!!