In 1996 I purchased a Mamiya 6MF rangefinder with the 50, 75 and 150 lenses to replace an Olympus OM1/OM2 35mm system. The Olympus cameras and lenses were, of course, compact and good to travel with and that was also the main reason why I went for the Mamiya, also compact and lightweight but now with a huge 6×6 negative. And, in this case at least, a change in gear did make a real difference to my photography.
With only 12 frames per roll it became much more selective and deliberate. The rangefinder made it easy to focus in the large viewfinder, and the medium format negatives meant that aperture had a much more obvious effect on depth of field. On a tripod, long exposures became more fun to do. The Mamiya also does not have interchangeable backs, so the selection of which ISO colour or black or white film to use also had to be deliberate (though I did have 2 Mamiyas at one point to make that choice easier).
My working career has been as an academic hydrologist, so my interest in water is of long standing. With the Mamiya I started to experiment with pictures of water in both colour and black and white. I found that for colour Fuji Reala colour negative film gave me results that were highly satisfying (at least when I remembered to take the lens cap off… ). All the images here were taken with Fuji Reala. Now, unfortunately it has long been discontinued.
The Mamiya and its lenses remain my favourite camera system of all those I have used. Unfortunately, however, one of them developed a problem with the electronics. At that time it could still be repaired in Japan, but I decided that I had to go all mechanical so the 6s were replaced by a Hasselblad 501c (and later an SWC). The Hasselblads are also still great to use, but I still have a fond spot in my memory for the very special Mamiyas.
I now have 25 years of film and digital medium format images of water and this has now resulted in a book, The Still Dynamic, recently published by the Mallerstang Magic Press, in a limited edition of 100 signed copies. The book includes 94 images of surface reflections and skypools, surface caustics and caustic sheets, frozen waters, water waves, waterfalls and the marks of past water in a 20 x 25cm format and costs £30 + p&p.
The book can be ordered at www.mallerstangmagic.co.uk and all profits will be donated to WaterAid.
I have also contributed several articles to the online magazine On Landscape, the most recent of which A Devil’s Dictionary of Photography, can be found at onlandscape.co.uk/2021/03/devils-dictionary-photography
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