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11/3/02

I went to The Getty Museum yesterday, and I'm really glad I did. I didn't get to see what I went there for, but I got to experience some amazing work nonetheless. Had I frequented museums a bit more in the past I'd know that they don't shaw all of their stuff all the time, it gets cycled through display. So, I didn't get to check out any of the Walker Evans stuff that they have so much of, stored in the back, waiting to be displayed again. That's a shame, too, I really was looking forward to it. What I did end up seeing in the photography section was their exhibit of Dorothea Lange's photographs. Wow. I can honestly say that some of her photographs moved me. I plan on going back during the week when it's not so busy so I can take a longer look, because the exhibit rooms were so crowded with people you couldn't look at a photo for more than a few seconds before being nudged away by the next person. I'll wait to say more about her exhibit until I've had a better look.

I also very much enjoyed the Rembrant and Company (or Rembrant and his Circle, something like that) room. Now I see what all the hubub is about Rembrant lighting. I truly fell in love with some of the work in that room, and I need to go back and have a closer look. Some of the other stuff from those earlier centuries was amazing too. I especially liked the more detailed paintings. Again, I think I'll wait until I have a closer look to comment on the stuff there.

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I had brought the M6 to the museum, of course, but I got so immersed in all the art there that I hardly shot anything. Just some touristy shots. I have realized one thing, though... I wish I had started off in photography with manual cameras. It's like my dad told me when he started to teach me how to drive. Learn with a manual transmission, and the automatic will be nothing, but learn with an automatic, and the manual will seem like quite a task. I have always used auto exposure cameras, and only recently started using the aperture priority mode on them (when I got my Contax G2). So going to an all manual exposure system is quite difficult. Throw in manual focus (all my cameras have been autofocus too) and by the time I am ready to snap the shutter on any non-static shot, the moment is gone. Focusing with the rangefinder patch is difficult so far. I am trying to get into the habit of parking the lens at infinity when I'm just walking around, that way I will always just rotate the focus ring in the same direction and stop when the images are aligned. Otherwise I go back and forth searching for correct focus. I really need to spend some good shooting time before I go on my trip, or I'm going to have a hard time. Well, I always have the Minilux to fall back on If I really need to shoot something quick, but I really don't want to use it as a crutch.

For some reason the 50mm seems like a tele to me. I had decided to use the 50mm only for a while to get used to the camera and the lens, but this morning I decided to go ahead and take the 35 out of its box and stick on the camera. Maybe I'll be more comfortable with this focal length. Actually, after thinking about it, I believe I only percieve the 50 as such a tele because I'm used to framing with the edges of the viewfinder, not with framelines. The framelines for the 50mm cover maybe half(?) of the viewfinder image, so it just seems like it's being cropped down so much. I guess I just have to get used to that.

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So I shot a couple rolls with the M6 today at a little family gathering, and I'm quickly getting more used to the camera. Don't get me wrong, the ergonomics are great, it feels wonderful in the hand, it's just the damned manual focus and exposure that I need work on. The M6 is a wonderful camera to hold and shoot, and I still am not used to how quiet it is, but the G2 wasn't so bad, now that I think about it. I in no way regret selling the G2 to buy the M6, but I do kinda miss it anyway, it was a great camera with a great feel to it and wonderful funtionality. It just wasn't what I need in a camera. I am pretty sure the M6 is.

I shot mostly with the 35mm today, it was easier to get more people in the framelines, but for a couple shots I wished I could quickly switch to the 50. I think I am going to need another body, so if I can afford it, a Bessa R2 may be on its way. The only thing I don't like about the 35 is the fact that you don't get to see much outside of the framelines, I guess this is why the 0.58 finder is so great for the wider angles. With a 28mm I wouldn't see outside the framelines at all. So I like shooting with the 50 framelines the best, but I like the field of view of the 35mm. Go figure.

I also have only shot with TMZ so far, and I really need to try a roll of Tri-X before I get too comfortable with the 3200 speed film. I can shoot indoors at middle apertures and nice shutter speeds, and that is great. Then in the darker parts of the house I open up to f/2 or 1.7 (depending on the lens) and can still shoot at around 1/60, which is a comfortable speed for indoor candids for me. With Tri-X I won't have that luxury, but then again I can't even shoot in daylight with TMZ, even at f/22 and 1/1000 I am still overexposing. Oh well, you can't have everything. I guess if I got a Bessa R2 I could use mostly TMZ in it with the 35mm, and have a fast lens but also a slightly better top shutter speed of 1/2000. Hey, one stop might make a difference sometimes. I think maybe I should just stick to Tri-X and the M6 w/ 50mm for a while though, master (or at least get used to) that, then move on to another lens, then another film, then maybe later on another body. Ah, so much crap I put myself through when this doesn't need to be so complicated. I really enjoyed shooting today and that's what matters, even if the results end up just being a bunch of snapshots.