In your bag No: 1217, Giles Smith
Giles has sent us a double. Not a double bag though. No he has been cool enough to send us a bag shot and his film stash all rolled into one nice post. Check this lot out.
Consider this a double entry for SUYF and IYB. I hope that’s acceptable!
By way of introduction, I’m a professional photographer based in Leeds/London. I started my career shooting live concerts and festivals, and have since diversified into moving image and film portraiture. Long-term, I’d love to be exclusively shooting editorial and portrait content on film, but for now, being a jack of all trades is the name of the game.
Starting with my film stash, I don’t have a great deal of 35mm to boast about, as I tend to buy as and when I need it, mainly Portra 400 and Tri-X, though I like to keep a supply of Cinestill 800T and 50Daylight around too. However, I recently organised my 120/220 collection, and I began to realise I might have a problem.
In the collection pictured, only the Ektar, Tri-X and two rolls of new Portra 400 (hidden top-left in the largest tub) are in-date. Everything else is expired to a greater or lesser degree. All the slide film (including 3 boxes of Provia I forgot to include) are only a few years out of date, the Fuji stuff in the big tub is mainly 2005-2007, but the 5 boxes of Ektacolor Pro Gold all ran out in 1998 or 2000. I have a few rolls of 220 Pro Gold from 1996 too, and there’s one crazy old roll of Agfacolor I received free in another order that is dated 1973. Who knows if I’ll ever dare shoot it!
I tend to save this weird collection for personal work (I think the Pro Gold might be my favourite 120 stock ever), and I tend to buy Portra 400 for commissions, unless I’ve agreed with my client ahead of time that they’d like to embrace a little, uh, “serendipity” within the work!
As for my bag, I always have my Ricoh GR1S on me, bag or no bag (though, admittedly, I’ve only owned it a few months at this point, so very much still in the honeymoon period). I like how it behaves, the autofocus is pretty great, and having pretty much full control over the exposure feels amazing compared to previous compacts I’ve shot. I would love the GR1V, so am always keeping an eye out for that (I like to push my films, and tricking the camera into doing this with the exposure compensation dial always feels like a cheap hack). I know the Ricoh is a liability in as much as it can no longer be repaired, but even with my giant hands, I much prefer operating this to the Contax T2, as much as I’d love the build quality of the Contax. Also the Ricoh is just that bit smaller and way lighter, which makes it perfect for slipping into a jean/suit pocket.
I typically only carry one of the bigger cameras at any one time, depending on my mood:
The Xpan has quickly become my favourite camera to shoot, and I can’t speak highly enough about it. From the quality of the lenses (I don’t use the circular ND filter on either the 45mm or 90mm, but embrace the vignette) to the reliability of the meter, it all just feels *right*. Also worth noting I’ve yet to shoot anything in regular 35mm framing on this camera – it would feel like a waste. There’s something about the cinematic quality of the 2.71:1 aspect ratio it offers – often times friends in the film industry will ask if I’m showing them stills from a video project, not realising that a still camera exists that shoots in that aspect.
As much as I love my Xpan, the Bronica, which has served me for a number of years now, is probably the best overall camera of the three (that MF quality!). The 65mm is perfect for mid-portraits, and the 45mm is insane for putting in a subject in context. I just wish they’d made a lens that was reliable in the headshot/portrait length. As with the Xpan, the meter is reliable, handling is good, and again it gives a different perspective for me with that portrait-orientation viewfinder.
As for the bag, It’s just an army surplus bag I picked up for £5 and threw some patches on. I use Think Tank/Pelican cases for my digital gear, but for personal work I much prefer carrying something smaller and less obviously housing precious gear. I tend to carry a beanie/gloves etc, and pad those between lenses/cameras. To be honest though, with the exception of the Ricoh, I know these cameras are built to last, and I’m not afraid to bash them around a bit in the name of keeping them on my person as regularly as possible.
Other content of my bag are camera tape and sharpie for marking films (push/pull etc) and my Lumu light meter, which isn’t getting as much use now I sold almost all my non-metered cameras, but I do like using it for portraits to ensure correct exposure on subjects’ faces. Beyond that, just a little Peli case for 120 rolls (I normally carry a mix of TX, Portra, Supera and Pro Gold, but typically not all four at the same time!) and an old case with a few rolls of 35mm inside (a mix of TX, Portra and Cinestill 800T/50Daylight – again not normally all at once).
Now I just need a bag suitable to carry my Pentax 67 and Fuji GW690III day to day…
Thanks so much for everything you do at JCH, it’s an invaluable resource and great community!
Thanks for sharing your bag and your stash with us, Giles. I love it, brilliant.
Check out the links and please make sure you come and comment.
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Send me a hi resolution image of the bag. Optimum size is 1500 across. Please ensure there is a bag in the shot, unless you don’t use one. The more you can write about yourself the better, make it appealing and tell us a story.
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