A fun day photographing Granville Island      


After an enjoyable Sunday at the Vancouver Camera Swap Linda and I decided it would be nice to spend another day just wandering around and we selected Granville Island.

The peninsula & shopping district of Granville Island has been a popular destination for both local Vancouverites and tourists since the 1970’s. There is an excellent public market where one can find almost any type of food, the ever-popular Granville Island Brewery and a thriving artist community.

I can’t recall the number of times I have wandered that amazingly exciting visual location, camera in hand, photographing the architecture, the seafront, and the people. Gosh, the list of the many different cameras I have used to photograph that location goes back (like Granville Island) to the 1970’s.

This time I decided to bring my little Nikon J1 CX-format mirrorless camera. On previous outings I usually choose a DSLR, and before digital I used SLRs, and I had even spent days there with different large and medium format cameras.

I am not one to review cameras, but I will say that the small interchangeable lens Nikon V camera’s, in spite of their small sensors, are a pleasure to use and I have no trouble making sharp large prints. The focus is extremely fast; they deliver a blazing 10 fps, and are surprisingly consistent in program mode.

I rarely hold it up to focus with the LCD. I just lazily estimate how I want my subject composed, hold the camera out and shoot. It’s small and easy to carry in my pocket if I want to shop.

Linda and I got there early enough so that similar to the characters Merry and Pippen in the novel, “Lord of the Rings” would say, “to have second breakfast”. The public market has a great food court where if one is lucky there is actually a place to sit, eat, view the waterfront, and of course, people watch. People can also step outside, sit on the benches, and share their food with the birds.

The day was sunny, warm and perfect for wandering the many shops filled with amazing artwork, and of course, also perfect for photography.

Granville Island is so colourful. Any way a person looked there was a picture waiting to be taken. I did notice a couple of other photographers setting up for scenics of the Granville Island bridge, one woman was crouching very low, with a wide angle lens, to photograph one of the many street performers. I am sure there were more, but Linda was intent on viewing as much artwork as she could, and she and I were having such a good time looking at and talking about things that I passed up many a shot.

I think a photographer has to work any environment with dedication. I have done that in the past, spending hours searching out subjects on Granville Island to photograph. (Not that one has to do much searching.) I read once that the best thing about Granville Island is it’s wonderful sense of imagination. I think that is so. And to quote another line from another movie, “I’ll be back.”




Twin Lens Reflex Film Camera   



Linda chose a hay field


I liked this old Plymouth


Town view by Linda


I thought a photo of our black Honda would be great.


It started raining as I photographed the church


Linda leaned out the window for this shot


I held the camera out the window upside down for this photo


At the close of my last article about the Vancouver Camera Swap Meet I wrote that I had purchased a neat 1960s twin lens reflex Yashica camera for myself. To clarify, the camera is a 120mm format film camera, which gives 2¼x2¼ inch negatives, and does it with twin lenses (or two); a top lens for focusing, and a bottom lens for making the image.

Unlike modern DSLR cameras, photographers don’t hold the camera up to their eye to peer though a tiny hole, and instead view the subject by holding the camera at waist level while focusing on a 2¼” square ground glass.

My wife, Linda, got herself a TLR camera some time ago. Her intention was to force herself to slow down and pay more attention to proper composition, and being limited to only 12-exposure roll film certainly helps one to slow down. So when, a few weeks before the Vancouver Camera Swap meet, she mentioned that she hadn’t had a chance to put a roll of film through her TLR Yashica-Matt since early spring, I decided I might look for the same kind of camera so we could go out together.

I need to say that I am not one of those that thinks film is better than digital. Gosh, not for a minute! I like digital and I really like digital post-production software. For that matter I prefer modern digital technology. However, readers will remember from an earlier article that I wrote, “Happiness is a day with my camera.” To me, that means any camera that is fun to use. And a slow focusing, waist level viewing, twelve-exposure film camera is exactly that, “fun to use”.

Both Linda and I used twin lens cameras in the 1980s. Linda even had a big and heavy Mamiya that she packed on a glacier-climbing trip we once took. When I think of that hefty camera I can’t help but laugh at those modern photographers that complain about how heavy their DSLR cameras are.

We have spent two days since I got my camera going out on photo-excursions. One day driving the back roads near home and one photographing the small nearby town of Chase. However, the day in Chase was cut short because of rain. Then, instead of arriving home and being able to quickly edit image files on a big computer screen, the procedure is to take the film into a completely dark room, unroll the film from the paper backing, put it in a light-tight processing tank, and then spend the better part of the next hour pouring chemicals on, rinsing, and hanging the film up to dry overnight. The next day I scan film and edit in Photoshop.

I don’t know if I can say that the processing part of the journey is all that fun. But using the camera is, and I’ll just have to put up with film developing so Linda and I can play with our vintage film cameras.

So far we have been using some really dated film that expired back in 2002. That old film won’t yield the spectacular results one expects from medium format film. We have two more rolls of that fatigued old film to use as we get used to our cameras, then I’ll get some newer film and we will be able to produce photographs that match the resolution of some of the best modern DSLRs.

But sharp pictures aren’t really why so many photographers like Linda and I are returning to those old medium format cameras. The cameras from the past have now become unusual in this day of instant gratification. And there is something quite rewarding and even fulfilling, and as one photographer remarked “intimate” in the slow process of using a TLR.