Q. Which camera to take camping?

A. The biggest one, of course, and perhaps a slightly smaller spare… you know, for flexibility.
I’ve just spent four days over the break camping in Mallacoota – the far east of Victoria, close to the New South Wales Border – a six hour-ish drive away and surrounded by lakes, coastline, and really dense, lush national parks – teeming with wild things, esp mosquitoes…
Super opportunities for stomping about and photographing things though, and as always before a trip anywhere, I had to…. make decisions… what… camera.. to take… (deep breaths!).
Well, the most fun is always the 4×5″ field camera – so I packed that up along with around 15 film holders (loaded with Ilford Delta 100 from a stash in the fridge), and three lenses (a normal 135mm, the ludicrously wide 65mm, and a slightly telephoto 300mm (which weighs a tonne)), spot meter, cable releases, level, cleaning cloth, loupe and the meter’s instruction manual (for emergencies).
Here’s one frame from near the top of Genoa Peak – a satisfying climb (with all that camera gear, on the hot day!) that gives you a good view and a satisfying sense of where everything is in relation to everything.
But I digress – the 4×5″ camera is great for detail – allowing precise control of perspective, and encouraging me to be fussy about everything else (the photos are nearly always perfectly level, and spot metering means the exposure matches the capabilities of the given film stock fairly exactly), but it’s not so great for wandering around town, being spontaneous (surely that’s the kind of guy I am happy to believe I am!?). So I “had” to drag along another camera – a “little” Fuji 6×8 rangefinder, so I could walk around the Mallacoota Market (for example) and be 16% less conspicuous*…
featuring the SS SarosHere’s another shot, from Point Hicks (the spot where Captain Cook first sighted the Australian mainland (well, actually his first Lieutenant did, hence the name)). The fairly disfunctional ship part in the foreground is from the SS Saros, who met her unfortunate demise on this rocky coast in 1937…
That said, I did actually use quite a bit (relatively) of 4×5″ film, and managed to burn my way through 21 sheets of the stuff, which is really pleasing as you only get better in the doing, and one of my 2011 “things” is simply to shoot more large format film, as it does end up being more satisfying in the end.
All in all a jolly nice part of Victoria and a fab camping break. There were goannas, kangaroos, birds of all kinds (from choughs and kookaburras to pelicans and black cockatoos), and heaps and heaps of traffic Police. It’s that time of year…
*did I say 16%? I’m sure that’s about right…

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