Matt Hill: We Are the Night

We’d like to introduce Matt Hill, the Marketing Communications Manager for MAC Group who also is an artist, photographer, filmmaker, SEO/SEM geek, speaker at various trade shows and lover of night, travel and landscape photography. He will be dropping in from time to time to share his experiences, tips and images.

I’ve been a Mamiya shooter for twelve years, and my film camera of choice is the Mamiya 7II. Although I also own the 150mm and 80mm lenses, I rarely remove the 43mm f/4.5. It has such a remarkable angle of view with low distortion that I seriously jump up and down when I get my film back, because it’s exactly what I expected when I was out there shooting. Which brings me to my next point.

The night. 

When the sun is down, there is such gorgeous light happening everywhere… you just have to stick around longer to capture it. 

©Matt Hill

Mamiya 7II, 43mm f/4.5 - f/16 @ 12 min / Ilford XP2 Super, 120

This is the 69th St Transfer Bridge, discovered and lovingly researched by Gabriel Biderman, who invited me out that night to do some moonlight shooting.

The Mamiya 7II is a great night camera for a few reasons:

  • Virtually no shutter vibration
  • Bright rangefinder is easy to focus in low light
  • The battery that powers the leaf shutter lens lasts a very long time
  • It takes cold weather like a champ, and if you want to go into arctic conditions, there is an external battery holder
  • It’s quiet. I like listening to the ambient sounds during long exposures
©Matt Hill

Mamiya 7II, 43mm f/4.5 - f/16 @ 12 min / Ilford XP2 Super, 120

There is something visceral about 6×7 film that still moves me, so I still shoot film on night shoots. Long ago, I was told by a mentor of mine that XP2 has silver halide dye clouds that just become more and more detailed in the highlights as you overexpose it. I shot it out and ever since, it’s been my film of choice for night shooting. With a good scan, the dynamic range is extraordinary. 

In the first image, the difference in exposure between the derelict transfer bridge and the blazingly-lit Westside Manhattan invoked images of the bridge having the city as it’s own fading-away dream. When I pulled out more detail in the highlights post-scan (the result above), it still felt that way, but I gained back the highlight detail that made the image sing. Benefit: If this were digital, the highlights would be gone in the exposure that is proper for the dark foreground, requiring that I take a second photograph for the highlights and composite an HDR. With film and my M7, I got it in one shot.   


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