Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

"Every good painter paints what he is."
― Jackson Pollock

… of cameras and lenses

Photography instructors want you to develop as a photographer without falling into the trap of believing it’s the camera. True to a point.

For a rough-shod flared and grainy, unpredictably out-of-focus genre, Holga’s are the bomb.

Good equipment makes it more possible to get a consistently good result.

I have two cameras that would be favorites. Both make photographs effortless, the tools disappear and I find I’m looking for the result and not having to pay attention to limitations in the equipment.

Digital is a Canon 30D with a 24-70mm f2.8 L series, a particularly good copy of the lens. The 24-70 is just an outstanding lens, even accounting for the digital screen size moving it to 38mm-112mm. The contrast and color are extraordinary. Just a great all around shooting camera, if a bit on the heavy side. Auto focus and great controls that allow you to take as much control of the exposure as you would want to.

Medium format 6×7 is a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with a left hand grip, 110mm f2.8 lens. In medium format that’s a normal lens. The viewfinder is a hooded plate on the top, to switch from portrait to landscape you rotate the back 90 degrees. You look down at the viewfinder. A spare back for a second roll of film, preloaded. The camera is completely manual, so on the left-hand grip goes a Sekonic 208 light meter. An OpTech strap to carry the weight and allow the camera to be hand-held comfortably. This is also heavy. And the work flow is very different. Focusing is manual. Film advance is manual. Exposure is manual. Once you get used to that it is an extraordinary tool. The results are just stunning.

Great black and white camera. And you have to see 6×7 slide film to believe it, no grain at all and the scanned files are excellent.

I use photography as a tool in workflow. The first result I’m looking for is capturing images to use in creating a painting. Texture. Combinations of colors. Forms and shapes. Things noticed quickly and captured and worked with quickly. that’s the 30D, that’s digital.

And then there is documenting paintings and producing scanned images suitable for producing prints. That’s both digital and the RZ67 6×7 slide film photographs.

Along the way I started working in black and white just for the joy of it. I needed to develop color and slide film, and the best way to start to learn to develop with consistent results is black and white. I started with Fuji Neopan, then tried Kodak TMY B&W film. Just a blast to work with, the blacks are deep, the gradation of grey very, well, gradual. There’s something about the abstraction black and white creates – you lose color, you are back to forms and shades and contrasts. The better I get at capturing images in black and white the more aware I’ve become of light and shadow and contrast – and that translates directly to more awareness and better results in color as well. Composition gets better.

I also like the character of film. The edges of the scan, which occasionally capture the “kodak” label and codes. One camera leaves a tail on the negative frame, just a slight imperfection that I think adds to the character of the final scan. Where possible I’ll leave those edges, and print them.

— spence

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