I remember being in a hostel in Thailand once, just minding my own business, when another guest returned from the beach. Someone politely asked them how it was. The reply was “nice, but I couldn’t get any good photographs because there were too many people”.
The beach is perhaps a good demarcation for what kind of photography you prefer. A line in the sand, if you like. Some want postcard-like people-free sunsets. Others want photojournalistic people-filled scenes. I’m in the latter camp, which makes a crowded Chinese beach ideal for me.
Jinshan is about an hour from downtown Shanghai, and the manmade beach there is probably the best you’ll get within a reasonable distance to the city. I’m not sure it’s ever going to be too deserted but going on a public holiday, as I did, guarantees you’ll have plenty of human subjects to shoot.
The 5 frames here were shot on Fujicolor C200 in a Yashica Electro 35 GSN. It was my first time shooting this particular stock, although I knew it to be a favourite among budget-conscious film photographers who prefer not to have those warm Kodak colours. The ones that make your day on the beach look even sunnier.
When I first got the Yashica Electro, it took a roll or two to get comfortable and confident with the rangefinder focus. Fiddling with the little squares in the viewfinder was slowing me down, and even when I thought I’d got them lined up, I still wasn’t completely sure what results I was going to get.
That’s when I really learned the value of zone focus. If you’re only really shooting wide scenes with everything in focus and never mixing it up with shallow depth-of-field pictures, which is pretty much what I do, there’s no need to even change the focus between shots. So that’s what I did here.
Starting at the west end and walking east along the sand as the mid-afternoon sun began to think about going down behind me, using zone focus kept everything simple and meant I could just snap away. f8 and beach there, I think I heard someone say.
Thanks for reading my first ‘5 frames with a…’ post on 35mmc.