Tim Kirman (@guin) is a Glasgow based photographer and Lomography enthusiast who talked to us about his experiences using the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control lens and how it impacted on his photography.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
I started my photographic journey quite young. A close family friend introduced me to whole process when I was about 9 or 10. My initial introduction was watching him develop his own black and white films and then create the prints on a photographic enlarger. I found the whole process magical, especially watching the images appear in the chemical bath. Being young I only had a small Halina Flashmatic 110 Tele STB, which I still own and use to this day, but I wanted to be able to do more than this camera could offer. I had obviously given my parents enough of a hint that I wanted a camera as on my 13th birthday they eventually bought me a Zenith-11 and my real journey into film photography began.
I soon learnt how to develop my own film and create prints, but lacked the equipment so never really got my teeth in to the whole process fully until my mid 20s when I was able to dabble as part of my degree, which strangely enough was wholly unrelated to photography! Having shot several roles of Ilford black and white with my Zenith I developed and printed them all as part of a project and it all sort of snow balled from there. Eventually I bought a small digital camera, a Kodak Easy share, and was soon experimenting with the digital medium mostly at the expense of my poor Zenith which languished in the wardrobe as a result!
A real turning point came when I friend introduced me to the Holga in 2006. I loved it and before I knew it I owned one and I was shooting pretty much all the time with it. Experimenting in multiple exposures, cross processing, hacking it to run 35mm film through it, pretty much anything that I saw other people trying. As a result, and thanks to the Lomography site and the internet, I also discovered a host of other Russian cameras. I dug out the Zenith and was soon thrifting for vintage cameras that I could experiment with too. Similarly I also began to explore better digital cameras and have had a series of Canon EOS DSLRs and now shoot with a 5D MKIII alongside my collection of film cameras which also include several older EOS film cameras. I love the instant gratification of digital but still believe that film format is far superior. And in some ways this feeling is also extends to the a range of the vintage lenses. It's fair to say that I have pretty much experimented my way to where I am today and continue to do so.
How do you find shooting with the Petzval 58?
I find the Petzval 58 so easy to use. I tend to decide which aperture plate I am going to use before I start and stick to it once I am out. If I need to change the plate it is very straight forward. Unlike a modern lens I can't just click a dial to change the aperture, and I have to manually focus the lens. However, I actually feel more in control with the Petzval. I find that I am taking more time composing my shots digitally, as I do with film. It is so easy to shoot a large number of images digitally when everything is a click of a dial and I do think there is a tendency to not always be in the moment when shooting digitally and with an automated lens. The Petzval puts me in mind of the scene and even though I am using a DSLR I am using it as I would an SLR. Images are super sharp and the Bokeh ring gives you that added dimension of being able to really draw the eye in to the subject matter. I've also found that it has made me re-evaluate some of my own photography. I've never been a fan of landscape photography. I always feel a bit lack luster with some of my efforts. But some recent film shots using the Petzval have given me a food for thought and I will be using it more for this very purpose. It's also a great talking point! I can't tell you how many times I have had people stop and ask me about the lens. It sort of does stand out having a big shiny brass lens mounted to a modern camera. This never happens when using a regular lens.
What attracted you to this lens?
Primarily it was the fact that here was a lens that is steeped in photographic history. Reproducing the first photographic portrait objective lens just instantly attracted me. Adding the Bokeh ring just made it that bit more appealing! It brings a traditional element to the Digital age. Even better I can use it on my EOS 3 and 500N film cameras and bring that extra dimension to film.
What do you choose to shoot and why?
I love abandoned spaces and the obscure. I'm usually taking a photo of something no one else would take a second look at. But equally I love capturing people unawares and getting candid moments, unstaged and unprepared, especially as portraits. In a time when people spend a lot of time trying to take that "perfect selfie" everyone almost looks the same, the same pout, the same angle, camera held aloft, everyone looking up I find the candid more beautiful.
Do you have any photography based plans for 2018?
I don't have any specific plans beyond continuing to enjoy my photography and sharing it through my various pages. I am in the process of planning and setting up my darkroom, so hopefully later this year I can get back in to this. I have been using EyeEm as my preferred platform to sell licensed images for some time now and will continue to do so as part of my output. I am currently studying warm glass art at Glasgow City College full-time and a lot of my creative efforts are being taken up on this at the moment but I am hoping to combine my photographic images in to some of my glass art.