Ever since I returned to film photography (with a Rolleicord bought from street photographer and Ilford artisan partner Keith Moss – now a friend) I have concentrated on exposing for good negatives. This has led me through numerous film stocks, developers and camera formats, and a gear acquisition strategy I compare to a game of Monopoly. Always trying, experimenting, changing to find that which I think of as perfection. Hampered by a natural indolence and carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands, and inspired by a visit to Wetzlar with a 1933 Leica III, I have decided that lightness and great optics (the lodestar of Oscar Barnack) are really what I need, but I still hanker after medium format.
As I get closer to moving to Devon, I have taken to visiting numerous London sights to document them. A visit to Highgate with an East German Werra with Zeiss Flektogon to photograph Karl Marx (don’t ask) led on to a trip to the magnificent Victorian necropolis at Kensal Green. There I found death at its most ostentatious, gothic and downright bizarre (plus the modest grave of Frederick Scott Archer – the founder of wet plate collodion photography).
Equipped with a Leica M5 with Zeiss Biogon C 35mm f2.8 and experimenting with Kentmere 400 exposed at 200 and developed in Ilford Perceptol 1:2, I found subjects of wonder for black and white. The Leica M5 is a camera outwith the norm of the M, large but with a superb meter, excellent ergonomics like the Leicaflex SL2, and a bright viewfinder with match needle metering. It sits comfortably in my hands and takes lovely photos. The Zeiss Biogon C has always impressed me for colour, sharp and contrasty it works equally brilliantly with monochrome, although in a different style to some beloved Leica glass.
The Kentmere came out beautifully with Perceptol, you lose a stop of speed but gain so much resolution and softer grain that it could be much more expensive film. Finally though as I came back through Paddington, the camera, lens and developer produced an image that convinced me that I only need this camera and a few lenses, no more carting around a Hasselblad or Rollei.
A pure amateur with a pretence of no pretensions, you can find me on Instagram as charlesdamorgan