Ansel Adams, a photographer, who developed the Zone System of exposure is often appreciated by hard core technical photographers indeed being held in God like stature.
However for me while I pursued the Zone System of exposure for technical mastery the man that captivated my attention for his photography is Alfred Eisenstaedt. Of the same era as Adams, Eisenstaedt found fame with Life Magazine in the golden days of photo journalism.
Eisenstaedt used his camera as a background tool taking candid photo’s of the days celebrities. For this his pictures became world famous if indeed the man behind the camera was less than obvious.
Having used in my youth a Canon A1 camera system, a Bronica ETRS medium format and finally a Nikon F series system, ending up working in a camera shop, City Camera Exchange in Fleet Street, it was a penniless financial month in my pocket that coincided with the arrival for sale of a Konica Auto S2 fixed lens Rangefinder camera. This caused an inner conflict that I had to have that Konica Auto S2 camera.
The branch manager was unrelenting. He would not hold it for me – I had bought too much gear and was still owing on some of it. As a result regardless if I wanted it or not the Konica had to go in the second hand section in the window and it was going in there today.
With no other option and one that I have never held any regrets over the next day all my Nikon gear arrived to the shop to be sold in exchange for that Konica Auto S2. I walked home with cash in my pocket and that Konica Auto S2.
The reason was simple and compelling. With that little Konica in the palm of my hand all I wanted to do was take pictures. The camera offered Aperture priority or full manual, a fixed lens 45mm F 1.8. The shutter was a leaf shutter only to 500th of a second but it would sync with a flash all the way up to that speed. And it was quiet. A leaf shutter just almost silently chirped. The lens was crisp and fast.
All those features gave confidence in the tool, but the most important compelling thing that camera had was that it gave me the urge, the desire, to want to take pictures.
In contrast the heavy Nikon kit gave me constant cause of concern for its well being, its value, its Chrome on Brass weight. What lens’s did I have with me? Did I have enough? Should I carry more lens’s for greater options? Wheres is my light meter? All these things ended up leaving my attention far from on the topic of taking photo’s.
At the end of the day looking at the photo’s from the greats for their technical command or their brilliance of composition, to do this, they had to take pictures. If the camera in your hand doesn’t do this, does not give you the desire to take pictures, you probably should be holding something else.
- On wikipedia Alfred Eisenstaedt
- On the Web Life Magazine
- On wikipedia Ansel Adams
- On Camerapedia Konica Auto S2
Then and Now – Courtesy of Google Street View.
The shop on Fleet Street that was once City Camera Exchange where I met the Konica Auto S2. Once a thriving Camera shop since changed hands, now a victim of the 2008 retail crash, now its another vacant shop.