I am a documentary photographer who also uses fine art for storytelling. I’ve had a passion for photography since I was a child when I was given a Box Brownie camera that I wore out.
During the 80’s, I learned to develop black and white, colour negatives and prints. I didn’t embrace the digital age when it initially arrived but about ten years later I eventually did.
I work with several NGO’s to raise awareness of social justice issues as well as undertake many personal projects on matters that are important to me. My recent work has been in developing countries such as rural Uganda, India and Nepal.
I am a member of MAPgroup – a collective of independent documentary photographers.
I have to admit I’m a bit of a gear head – I just love gadgets! I have often heard that gear does not make you a better photographer but I believe it can really help. Having said this, I have tried to curb my spending and reduce what I carry, particularly when travelling to international destinations.
Up until recently, I used 35mm cameras. I now use medium format cameras due to the resolution they provide. Most people shoot 35mm so I wanted to step outside what everyone else was using.
Pentax 645D (backup camera) and Pentax 645Z. These cameras provide amazing, high-resolution images. They are weatherproof and affordable, given they are a digital medium format camera. As I also shoot video, the Pentax 645Z is the only medium format camera available that also has video capabilities.
Pentax 645 55mm f/2.8 – This is a high-speed lens for this format. It is also very compact and light. This is my general go-to lens.
Pentax 90mm f/2.8 Macro – This is also a fast lens with Macro capabilities and Shake Reduction, which is useful when shooting video. A very high-quality lens.
I also have some older film lenses that are very reasonably priced to buy. I don’t usually travel with these lenses as they are used mainly in my studio.
Canon 580EXII Flash – I rarely use flash, so this unit is leftover from my 35mm kit and works well with the Pentax system.
Hahnel Captur wireless remotes – These are simple to use and work over vast distances and through walls. I love that they use AAA batteries that are readily available.
I use Pelican 1560 cases and when travelling with less gear, I use a Lowepro Pro roller 100 AW. This case can be used as carry on luggage on flights and it is incredible how much I can fit into what appears to be a small case.
I don’t use tripods very often out in the field, hence it’s absence from my gear pic. However, if I do, I use a Benro Go Plus Travel tripod with an N2 ball head.
Hardware & Software
I use Photoshop 2020 to edit my images. As much of my work is documentary, I am limited to how much an image can be processed. However, when it comes to my fine art work which is often highly composited, I don’t have presets – I just experiment and play until I like what I see.
I use a Macbook Pro (she’s getting on a bit) with an Eizo monitor. This monitor allows me to manage what my final prints will look like.
I back up my work on two Lacie Hard Drives as well as to Dropbox.
I also carry:
- Three spare camera batteries (Pentax D-Li90).
- Various Lee and Hoya filters (Hoya ND16 to allow for greater exposure times such as the blurring of a waterfall), (Hoya Pro1 filter to cut through glare), (Hoya ND Fader Filter that allows 10 increments of controlling exposure) and (Lee Graduated ND Filter to allow exposure control of foregrounds and skies).
- Lee filter Hood.
- Small Lastolite Reflector to use as fill light.
- Pentax 1.4x Converter which doubles the focal length of a lens.
- Pentax right angle finder for the 645D as it has a fixed screen, unlike the 645Z which has a moveable screen.
- Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D Light Meter. I find this more accurate as it measures incident light illuminating the subject where the camera meter measures reflected light that is light being reflected from the subject.
- Notebook and pen to write names and details.
- Poncho to keep not me but my camera dry.
I think it is important not to be part of the crowd but to try different things. Using different cameras, photographing in black and white, or using alternative processing methods is a great way to separate yourself from that crowd.
Aside from digital, I have returned to using film cameras that help me slow down and make every image count. Developing each negative is an amazing feeling as it provides me with the opportunity to give birth to my creations.
I also think it is important to tell stories through your images that other people are not. It may not always make you popular or see your work published or exhibited but for me, I feel I am advocating and giving a voice to those that are silenced and that’s all that matters.
www.imageri.com.au | @michaelraymentphotography
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