5 Frames… With ILFORD HP5 PLUS (EI 400 / 35mm format / Voigtlander Bessa R4A) – by Tristan Stuart

This project isn’t the most conceptually rich, but it certainly is full of life. I recently purchased a Voigtlander Bessa R4A and immediately headed down to the coastline with a roll of ILFORD HP5 PLUS and ‘mans [sic] best friend’, my dog Vito.

I am used to shooting with old manual film cameras and was curious to see how effective the automatic exposure and faster shutter speed on the Bessa R4A would perform with my Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 MC. With my speedy friend Vito running crazily around the park, I knew it would make for a great subject to test out the camera’s capability.

Vito is a Hungarian Vizsla and for those who don’t know the breed, saying they’re extremely energetic would be a huge understatement. Whizzing, whirling, jumping, double bounces followed by mid-air bottom flicks, tree climbing, ocean swimming and full speed sprints toward me with a last-minute 90-degree turn are just a few of the many tricks this energetic pooch has in his bag.

So I snapped away a role of action portraits of the precious Vito.

I confess, the camera performed flawlessly, but the magic of photography helped me realise something even more important. One of the intrinsic qualities of photography is the power to capture a moment; to freeze time and reflect upon that situation in a richer way.

The more I looked at the pictures, the more I laugh and share in Vito’s ecstasy of life. I think these simple pictures of a dog in the park share an important reflection about our general disregard for animal lives and the widely held view of their lower intelligence.

These moments of frozen time express a rich personality; full of showing off, having fun, pleasing others, a love of the wind streaking past his ears. They capture the essence of life lived to its fullest through the eyes of a pooch. While he may not be able to remember Pi or converse on politics, he can nonetheless teach us a lesson on how to live and love the moment, and to experience the bliss of life.

~ Tristan

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This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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6 COMMENTS

    • Hi Eric,
      Zone focusing is super efficient for action isn’t it, almost more efficient than modern auto focus systems. Although the auto exposure time on the Bessa is extremely helpful. 🙂

    • The camera is really impressive. I have had a small go of a Leica and I must say I’m pretty impressed with the Bessa comparatively. In some ways it out performs the Leica, at least to my sensibilities. But yes, the Bessa seems to be hugely under rated for what it is. Thanks for the kind remarks.

    • Haha, I’d be embarrassed to say! Truthfully though, I was pushing to get more ‘good shots’ out of the one roll. In saying this, the Bessa has really effective auto exposure, and when coupled with zone focusing, even on f5.6 it’s pretty hard not to get the shots in focus.

      Really appreciate the feedback.

      Kind Regards,
      Tristan.

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