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On Cameras

From: Creative Inspirations: Douglas Kirkland, Photographer

Video: On Cameras

(Music playing.) Douglas Kirkland: I have been doing this a long time and I'm probably no different than you. I have my favorite cameras and each camera has a story as far as I am concerned. The camera that I took my very first picture with was this Box Brownie. This is my parent's Box Brownie. It is my parents' Box Brownie, it's 116 film, look at this. This is how we held it closed with this little elastic here. And when you would push it down, you look at this little thing up here, push it.

On Cameras

(Music playing.) Douglas Kirkland: I have been doing this a long time and I'm probably no different than you. I have my favorite cameras and each camera has a story as far as I am concerned. The camera that I took my very first picture with was this Box Brownie. This is my parent's Box Brownie. It is my parents' Box Brownie, it's 116 film, look at this. This is how we held it closed with this little elastic here. And when you would push it down, you look at this little thing up here, push it.

And they used to say that George Eastman named his company from the sound of that shutter, Kodak. That's what it was imagined. Anyway, let's see. The most primitive of my cameras. These are couple of others I have. This is Kodak Duaflex, and I guess everybody in the 50s when I was beginning had an Argoflex one time or another. Today, my principle cameras are the Canons. This is the highest end Canon. It's called the 1Ds Mark III. It's around 8 grand. It's an $8,000 camera but boy, is it ever good.

It works in very little light without grain, which is now called noise, electronically. It gives you, believe it or not, if you are technical, you would know what I am saying. 16 bit file, 126 megs, every time you push the shutter. 126 megs, that's a lot of information, and you can make these prints huge. But frankly there are times when I don't want that glorious high-end camera and I use a camera like this. This is the 40D. This is a much less expensive camera, this is about 8 grand, this is about a lower $1000, maybe $1200, something like that. So much camera.

Now you don't always need these huge files. This gives 28 meg file, and I often use it and it works just perfectly. Again, they all work well. I mean it's what you do with them, and don't get ever caught up in the numbers race. It's like who's is bigger than -- which horsepower is right. Don't always grab the biggest one because sometimes this is lighter, less expensive, and does a very good job. Here's a love of mine. It's an 8x10 Deardorff. It was made in 1942, and believe it or not, I've started using that camera again.

It has a very special look. I was working on a movie in Australia called Australia this past summer, and I took this to photograph the Aboriginals, the Australian Indians we'll call them. And also some of the people in the cast like Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and it gives very shallow-- you might call it depth of focus, but it's really called depth of field technically. It means my eye would be sharp, my ears would be soft, and that's a very beautiful look. It just gives very beautiful negatives, and then I often work with this RZ Mamiya because once a month I photograph a director and this is the camera I use for it.

And this gives a negative 6x7 centimeters in size. I can show that to you. That's the size of the picture we shoot. It gives beautiful results. I have been working for Kodak shooting those people for 18 years now, and of course for Kodak I shoot film because that's what they are making. And the name of the series is called the On Film series. I am going to set this down right here. This is the zoom lens on it by the way. And again zoom lenses have certain value because you can get two shots without moving in minutes, so that's part of the glory of it, but these are all my children, my home, my love.

A photographer identifies so much with his or her equipment because you'll often be only as good as your equipment is. I mean, you do the best you can, the equipment won't do it alone. But when you are in sync whether it's you have a beautiful woman or a great looking guy, everything is perfect, and then you bring the camera up, it focuses beautifully and you feel the satisfaction going to it. You know, you hear that click, or series of click sometimes, and you know you've got something very special.

That for me is a great deal of what photography is all about.

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