In your bag No: 272 – Michael Thomason


by Bellamy /

4 min read

In your bag 272, Michael Thomason
Todays bag is a lovely set up from the wilds of the Canadian prairies. And what a bag it is, just look at all of that lovely gear. Over to you Michael…

Hi there,

My bag is a map of my photographic uncertainty. In an ideal world it would be different.

I began taking photos a couple of years ago as a remedy for the terror I felt at having to write an academic thesis. I gained real pleasure from the simplicity of photography, a simplicity that derived directly from the fact I used a very simple camera, a Minolta XG-1, with a 50mm lens. You’re not given many options with that set up; there’s not much to think about other than how to respond to the world around you (at the time that was Vancouver, Canada) and I couldn’t respond too much because film is expensive and I was on a budget. I still love the XG series. I’ve broken two, one in a fit of rage, and the other, on a blindingly hot day in the desert by trying to unscrew the film advance screw on the bottom of the camera because I thought it was the entry to the battery space. I now have an XG-9 and have discovered that I love shooting street photography with a wide-angle lens. The 28mm f2.8 Vivitar rarely leaves the body. I’ve only held a Leica once and it was lovely but the XG-9 is also very discreet and this set-up cost me 40GBP so I’m not complaining.

It seems silly to have four 35mm cameras. The reasons are silly too. I like to have the option of colour and black and white and I only have a wide-angle lens for my Minolta so it feels like I have to have at least four cameras to have the range of film type and angles of view I like. I much prefer black and white prints but because I don’t have access to a darkroom or to a good negative scanner sometimes it’s easier to shoot it in colour, get it processed and scanned cheaply, and then convert it to black and white. I still shoot lots of black and white and process the film at home but the negatives tend to sit around, never to be seen as positives. I shot some Velvia 50 (negative) film recently and the colours rendered very strangely. I mostly shoot HP5 but have had good experiences with T-max 400. I’m sad they’ve discontinued Arista Premium 100.

The F4s is a beast but I do find it charming. I got it because I felt I should buy a ‘serious’ camera and chickened out of buying a digital one after feeling how plasticy the consumer Nikon DSLRs felt. I recently did the unthinkable and bought a zoom lens! It was 40$ but I won’t use it much. I have to take a lot of batteries out with me just in case by F4 or flash die. I’d love a smaller grip for by F4 and to pair that with the waist-level viewfinder. That set-up would be pretty special for street photography. I love my little Minolta point and shoot; using it to shoot directly into the sun is super because the effect you get from the plastic lens is lovely. My filters and tripod hardly get used but it feels like I have to carry them around. The Kindle is a new thing. I didn’t think I’d like it but I actually love it. I’m not a snob about e-books anymore which can only be a good thing. The bag is great. It cost me 15$ from the second-hand camera store next to the London Review Bookshop on Bury Place in London. I’m currently living in the Canadian Prairies and am searching for a documentary project in the strip-malls and railway yards of the city fringe.

I’m going to replace my F4 with a D700 as soon as I can find one and buy a medium-format rangefinder. At night I dream of the Bronica 645.

all the best,

Michael Thomason

Thanks for sharing your bag with us Michael, I love to hear how people came to have their current set up and their thoughts on the gear that they have,
Check out the links and make sure you come and comment, we love it when you do.

Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Send me a hi resolution image of the bag (please make sure it is horizontal) and its contents, with some details about yourself and what you shoot. Oh and don’t forget your contact details (twitter, flickr, tumbler et al). Send the bag shots here.


7 comments on “In your bag No: 272 – Michael Thomason”

    Pavel K. September 16, 2012 at 11:43 am / Reply

    Interesting, interesting. Glad it’s someone from our lovely bread basket, although I wouldn’t necessarily call them wild. I’m glad to see that today’s bag doesn’t feature a Leica or a Billingham bag.

      Mike September 17, 2012 at 1:35 am /

      Thanks Pavel,

      Regina isn’t too wild, but Friday nights in the Irish pub can get a little hairy. I like that you like my bag but did just get a nice Domke through the post this week – perhaps that means I sold out!

    Desmond Chin September 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm / Reply

    re: velvia 50 (negative) film having weird colors.
    Velvia is a slide film, and perhaps your lab had cross processed it as negative film and hence you got weird color rendition. If you shoot Velvia again have it processed as a slide E-6 and you will be amazed at the colors. Very vivid and saturated. I shoot only Velvia 50 and 100 and I’ve never had weird colors if processed properly. Good luck with your photography :)

      Mike September 17, 2012 at 1:32 am /

      Thanks Desmond

      I dd get it cross processed by accident! The guy at the lab at ASDA processed it as C-41. I did recently get a roll properly processed and was impressed. Thanks for your advice.


    Jonathan September 17, 2012 at 11:11 pm / Reply

    No don’t sell the F4!! You’ll need it for zombie apocalypse or something. :))
    I have one and I really love my F4E.

      Mike September 18, 2012 at 1:38 am /


    Herr Ärmel September 18, 2012 at 5:21 am / Reply

    “…It seems silly to have four 35mm cameras…” No, it isn´t, believe me. I´ve had even more, sold them all for digital. I´m quite happy with my digital Oly stuff, but infected (a little at least) by Bellamy´s blog, I am starting calculating if I could afford going analog again.
    Move on!
    greetings from Montenegro – Herr Ärmel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.