The first DSLR I bought for myself was a Pentax K-5. I remember walking into a shop hoping to compare what Canon and Nikon had to offer only to walk out with a K-5 later. It just felt right in my hands. I was smitten by their DA and FA limited lenses. Small, noisy, playful. Ever since then Pentax occupied a place in my heart.
Few years later I started to shoot film. The idea was to force myself into learning to observe and focus less on gear. The former was relatively successful. Except I would continue to buy and sell film cameras. There was an abundance of treasures from the past I simply couldn’t resist acquiring.
I developed more fondness for few cameras that came and went. Among the top of that list is the Pentax LX. I was thrilled when it arrived. The form factor, build, design were all top notch. The lens that came with the camera was a small but great Pentax-M 50mm f1.7. Besides not having a AE-L function, I had no complaints about the camera.
Why Street Photography?
While growing up, my family moved a lot. I lived in Korea, Houston, Langley, Jos (Nigeria) before moving back to Canada and calling Vancouver my base. My upbringing spurred on my curiosity about people, cultures, and places. It’s been insatiable for all of my adult life. I would wonder what life must be like elsewhere, in another time. I’m curious about people, their stories, our collective human experiences in both the mundane and extraordinary.
Street photography is a gift that keeps on giving. I admire the street photography greats, especially William Klein. NYC felt like a promised land of street photography. I booked a flight to spend a week there. I didn’t agonize over what camera to take.
Shooting in NYC
I stayed with a high school mate who lived in Queens. Each day, I would venture out from Woodside station. There was an unassuming air about this neighbourhood I came to appreciate. In my backpack was my LX, yellow & orange filters, Ilford HP5+, Delta 400, and Agfa Vista 200 which I never shot. Each day I would take the subway to a borough, walk for miles and miles, and return drenched in sweat. There was a heat wave while I was in NY and my body was calibrated to the PNW.
Pentax LX was a perfect tool for the occasion. Metering was reliable. Focus was easy to achieve. I walked and observed. When I liked a scene, I pre-focused and waited for someone to enter the scene. Waiting can be tedious but it was a welcome respite from walking and the heat on this trip. Others photos were just happenstance and I was able to capture it. I had sworn by 50mm if I could only have one lens. While this belief changed since then, the fifty did the job admirably. This trip also helped cement Ilford HP5+ as my go-to black and white stock. Since the trip, I have never wished to have shot colour film.
I had my film processed in New York on my last day. That day was purely for experience. I went to Times Square and sat, watched, listened to music. When I came home, I scanned my film with my D850 and the ES-2 kit. In the end I have a collection of images I feel strongly attached to. I tend to quickly lose interest in what I shot. But these photos from NY have withstood the test of time.
Thank you for reading. You can view more photos from this trip here.