The Travelling Canon AF35 Project - Custodian #2 - Dimitri Hon

I would like to say that Dimitri is my friend but we've never actually met, him and I occupy the same internet forum and both share a love for photography. Having 'internet friends' is a strange concept for many people but I embrace it, I enjoy the combination of animosity and camaraderie that meeting people purely through shared interests brings.

Dimitri is custodian number 2 in a rapidly growing list of people wanting to be involved with the project, he's based in London, here are his thoughts on the Canon AF35 SPRINT:


Getting a chance to play with a new camera that cost £1 can plunge one in to a surprising amount of anxiety. Once you get past the fact that you are probably taking photos for the narcissistic endeavour of refusing to accept one's own mortality you are faced with the fact that the diminutive value of the device its self is making you compete with you alone, more than anything.

Realising this embarrassingly stereotypical male-photographer trait like an old memory that still makes you cringe, I decided to just have fun instead and hit a few spots I enjoy taking photos and see what happens.

You see, I'm fundamentally lazy, so the first place I decide to go is the Barbican. For those of you that live outside the M25, this is essentially the Vatican for brutalist architecture. It really is that great. It's such blindingly good subject matter that you could point your camera anywhere and it will probably look a bit arty, at worst. It's like Cuba but cheaper to get to.
I got maybe one keeper from there, and that was from my "cop-out" spot, overlooking a pavement, right in to people's domes. Not exactly original but unique in its perspective, until drones arrived at least.

 

Otherwise, I got pretty fixated on camper vans. There's quite a few in London but what I found interesting was the reluctance to blatantly photograph them up close in case someone was home, so I inadvertently ended up with really voyeuristic angles, which could develop in to something...
I have to nod to Tina Kino in this instance, as she did a really nice series on modded vans in Berlin whereas I just took a few shit photos of a couple of transit vans in Finsbury Park... But there's something compelling about people living like nomads in little capsules next to the pavement.

My last location was Walthamstow market, which can be a tricky place to photograph. Some days you're just compelled to climb a bollard, throw caution to the wind and be ballsy whereas on others, you become camera shy and shoot from the hip. It all depends on the mood at the time and on this day, I wasn't feeling the urge to get in people's faces (which is usually an indicator of do the opposite).

All in all, it was fun to photograph loosely again, which is something, even with the infinity of digital, we forget. I had no idea if the film was colour or B&W or how accurate the frame lines were, so it was very much a case of going on feeling.

 

It's a good exercise. Good in the sense that you will ultimately be slightly disappointed but not so much so that you still feel like you learned something, no matter how intangible.

I learned that I photograph compulsively.


Thanks to Dimitri for participating and for posting on the camera to custodian #3!

You can see more of Dimitri's photos here:

Ektar 100
Scilly Isles

Simple Pleasures - The Travelling Canon AF35

Credit goes to Hamish at 35MMC.com for the inspiration behind this post and project.

Hamish is running a photo competition to win a Leica M4, the idea is to buy or use a camera worth less than £10 and produce an image that transcends the camera's value and stands up as a 'good'  image. He's yet to judge the competition but I'm certainly happy with some of the images from my £8 camera; enter the Canon AF35J/SPRINT.

So, what does your £8 buy you? 

A boxy little 1989 Canon point and shoot, with very few bells and whistles but in pretty much perfect condition is the answer. It fits well in a jacket pocket and is nicely self contained with the on/off switch also operating a cover for the lens and focusing lens, so no case is required.

The top trumps stats are as follows: the lens is 35mm F3.5 - F11, minimum focus distance of 0.9m or 0.45m with forced flash, shutter speed of between 1/40 and 1/250. It will accept DX coded film of either 100 or 400 ISO. That's about it, no self timer but can be attached to a tripod with plastic thread in the base. Oh yeah, and the strap is 45cm long, letting you judge your close focus distance to perfection, low tech but useful. I shot three rolls of 400 ISO film through it, two Kodak Portra 400 and one Kodak Tri-X 400, most of the better shots were in subdued light or low evening light but it worked fine in bright sunlight too. Film loading, wind on and re-wind are automatic and motor driven, it's not the quietest motor ever but not intrusively loud either.

Focusing with the horrible squashy shutter button means focus / recompose technique isn't the most confidence inspiring; there isn't really a distinct half press position and the focusing is silent so it's hard to judge if it's working. That said I don't think I took one out of focus shot over three 36 exposure films so it must work reasonably well!

The specification is truly nothing special and were it not for the challenge criteria I would have never bought this camera, it just looks bang average on paper and in use apart from the horrible shutter button it's pretty average. And this averageness is it's greatest strength, with no knobs to twist or controls to think about you are free to concentrate on the real crux of photography; composition.

I've not shot a lot with a 35mm focal length before so that is new but apart from that I am used to getting good results from most camera's I've used but looking through my scans (thanks filmdev.co.uk - great scans!) I found a far greater proportion of keepers and had far fewer repeats of similar shots with different settings than is normal for me.

I shot at locations I've been to many times before and shot subjects I've shot before and yet, somehow, ended up with a load of unique shots. Weird, who would have thought this uninspiring camera could be so inspiring.

Simplicity isn't something that I've ever looked for in a camera, in fact most of my camera's are massively more complicated that this dull little plastic brick, but the little Canon AF35 takes a pretty reasonable photo!

Free yourself from thinking about one hundred settings and the process of taking a picture changes, it's more contemplative and it's more fun.

 

So now I'm sure you'll be interested to try it for yourself, this little Canon AF35 is going on a trip, I've loaded a roll of Portra 400 and she's ready to roll.

She's going to travel the world one roll of film at a time. (I hope!)

If you're interested in getting involved with this travelling camera project then please get in contact, I want to send it on a trip and I need you guys to get involved to make it work.

If you want to be the first recipient of the camera let me know your address and I'll forward it on, shoot the whole roll and replace it with another 400 ISO roll of your choice then send it to the next address on the list.

Once you have developed the roll I want to send me your best three shots from the roll and any comments about your experience with the camera which I will them publish here.

How does your photography change when you concentrate on composition and timing alone?

Update 01/07/16 - Thanks for everyone that has got in touch to be involved so far. The camera has 13 recipients planned so far.

Where the camera has been:

  1. Gavin Wares - London, England - gavinwares.tumblr.com
  2. Dimitri - London, England

Where the camera is going:

  1. Hamish - www.35mmc.com
  2. Mal Pryde - Fife, Scotland
  3. Rob Edgerly - Bern, Switzerland
  4. Tina Kino - Berlin, Germany
  5. Michael Francis - New York, USA
  6. Ritchie Greenhill - Dundee, Scotland
  7. Aimee Smith - Fife, Scotland
  8. Mikael Carlsson - Gothenburg, Sweden
  9. Sarah Mears - Mulgrave Vic, Australia
  10. Theo Panagopoulos - Sydney, Australia
  11. Dan Polacek - Farmington MO, USA