Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Hofmeyer lies on the road to Cradock from Burgersdorp...

Its a very small little typical Karoo town. It has not seen much development and everything looks like it probably did 30 years ago if not longer.

I picked Hofmeyer as a stopover on the way to Nieu Bethesda because it seemed, according to the SAVenues website, to be an interesting town with some landmark architecture from yesteryear. I picked well because it was exactly the type of town that I like to photograph - small enough to walk around, clean and neat, safe and with little development and some interesting 'typical' Karoo architecture. The church, as almost all the 'platteland' churches, is pristine and well preserved. The NG church in Hofmeyer was different from most of the Karoo churches in that it seemed more modern and it was painted pink!

' click on images to enlarge and please visit my website here '

All the photographs on this post was made by one of my oldest cameras, my 2006 model Mamiya Zd. The Zd is a 22mp medium format digital camera. Because it is so old its technology is, compared to today's cameras, rather problematic and inhibiting at times. It still has a small 2 inch screen at the back, the buffer can take 10 Raw images in succession but then has to 'rest' for about 2 minutes. But it is one of the few, and certainly was the first, that has the digital sensor build into the camera, like the Leica S, and all dslr's. It is relatively compact with a wonderful grip and is very easy to use. The viewfinder is huge and bright and it has a button on the body to lift the mirror up. 

What I like most is the quality of the files and the ratio of the sensor, which is 4:3. It is not as 'long' as the 3:2 ratio of 35mm cameras. I prefer working with this ratio and it looks 'just right' to me...

I almost always use it on a tripod and  with the mirror lifted. My most favourite lens to go with this camera is a Mamiya 50mm shift. Its a beautiful all metal lens and is maual focus only. I only use f16 and f22 when I photograph landscapes and architecture and I let the shutter speed fall where it may. Most of the images here are made at infinity focus. Thus there is not much to think about when I use this combination, F16/22 iso 50 (sometimes iso 100) and infinity focus.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that this lens only has a manual aperture, so I have to frame my shot first, focus is already at infinity but I usually check it via the focus indicator spot in the viewfinder, then I shift and re-frame if necessary, close down to f22 and press the button to lift up the mirror, set the shutter to continuous, and fire away. The shutter re-cocks and the mirror stays up for a few bracketed shots. I only change the shutter speed when I bracket. This  sounds rather complicated and involved but it is really easy and 'automatic'. The only snag is that I sometimes forget to stop down but I usually notice it when the image appears on the lcd, so no harm doen.... The lcd is to small to use like a modern camera but that's ok because you have to learn to trust your technique and the files have such a wide dynamic range that a bit of under or over exposure doesn't matter. Unlike my Canon the shadows are also noise free and  clean even when overexposed a lot.

The Zd is not a camera to make thousands of images with, so its well suited to a slower and more thoughtful  process. These images were made early in the morning just after sunrise. I took just the one lens and with the camera attached to my tripod I took a slow walk through town. When I see something interesting I take the tripod, which I carry  over my shoulder, down and the camera is set up in a matter of seconds. Getting the levels right via a small hot shoe mounted spirit level takes up most of the time. I like to frame my images precisely and these images are all 'full frame' and not cropped much if at all. Sometimes I have to stand in the middle of the road to get a satisfying view but these small towns, early in the morning ( or any other time), does not have much traffic. I sometimes use an electronic cable release, but usually with the mirror lifted and camera mounted on my Manfrotto carbon fibre  tripod, camera shake is not an issue. I think because the whole setup is also fairly heavy, it helps to counter camera vibration and movement. The shutter is not that well dampened but its ok with normal to wide lenses.

I like the 50mm shift lens for its 'normal' view and I also try and frame the scene in a simple and uncomplicated way. I don't want my technique nor the lens nor my framing to be noticeable or intrude...

For processing I use Lightroom 4 and as per usual I desaturate the colours, remove some blue from the sky and dial in some 'clarity' - usually between 20 and 50 but sometimes if the image allows it, all the way to 100.

Regards, Ivan

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