Something Old, Something New.

In Film, Travel
Scroll this

The other day I read somewhere that you should try something new every day. I completely agree. I’d never thought of it that way, but I’m always looking for new things, and I’m sure I drive my family mad with all the new things I like to try, whether it be food, books or makeup. Newness fuels me like nothing else.

But for our summer holiday in Sicily I tried something new that was also, in a way, something old. Instead of lugging my Contax 645 everywhere, I decided to take my Contax Aria, my small 35mm camera with a 50mm f/1.4 Zeiss Planar lens, and my Leica Sofort instant camera. I carried the Aria over my shoulder, to make sure it was accessible and also for comfort on those particularly hot days. I had the Leica in my bag, and of course my iPhone. But the Aria, around my neck, was my main camera.

I’ve had it for a few years now, and used it for a year doing my original black-and-white film 365. It’s definitely not new (it’s not made any more, and I bought mine off eBay), but having used it mainly for black-and-white in the past, shooting colour 35mm film like this was a new thing for me. And I’ll take that, neophile that I am.

The way I use the Aria is completely different from the way I use the 645, which has to be taken out of its bag, along with a light meter to get the right exposure. That’s good in some ways, because it means I approach each image much more carefully and formally. But it means there is no spontaneity. Using the Aria gives me almost as much sharpness (I used Portra 160 film, and the Zeiss lens is astonishingly good) but lets me react more quickly (its aperture priority mode has very reliable metering), and take more photos (40 on a roll instead of 16). And there are some kinds of photos (people jumping off rocks, for example) that I would never have tried to take with the 645, given the high cost of each image, that I am happy to take with the Aria.

I was incredibly pleased with my scans. All those years of photography feel like they converged on these two weeks to make using this camera a complete joy; I felt like I knew what I was doing and enjoyed every second. And I also felt that that I had fulfilled the goal of my photography which is to capture the spirit of the holiday (or whatever I’m shooting) in images.



  1. What impresses me most about your photographs is just as you’ve said – that you captured the spirit of your holiday. I much prefer a handful of meaningful images to a stack of anything and everything . As you share your love of trying something new – and your feeling of mastery with your cameras – I’m reminded of a favorite quote.

    “Mastery sneaks up on you over time. Remember that staying on the path of learning is the goal.” — David Ulrich, Zen Camera

  2. Kristen, you really did capture the spirit of your vacation in Sicily beautifully (which, being Sicilian, has been on my bucket list for a while). We are visiting Tuscany in September and I have been trying to figure out which lenses I should bring. Reading this has convinced me that just one or two will be sufficient, especially if it is a lens I am comfortable with.

  3. Such lovely images, Kirstin. I dusted off my Contax Aria when we moved to Cornwall and it’s with me all the time now!

Submit a comment

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.