Essays

Struggling to keep photography simple in Ghent

I wouldn’t say things went wrong but they also didn’t really go as I planned it in my head. I’m going to yap on a little about what’s going through my mind lately. Here it comes.

Mitchel Lensink
Nov 7, 2019
3 min read
Mitchel Lensink Ghent street photography

This is a bit of a weird one. The moment I decided to go to Ghent for a weekend I automatically assumed I would be shooting a lot of photos there. After all, I had never been there and Ghent is known to be a pretty city. What could go wrong right?

Well, I wouldn’t say things went wrong but they also didn’t really go as I planned it in my head. I’m going to yap on a little about what’s going through my mind lately. Here it comes.

Hyperboles for days

It all started when, in the week leading up to the trip, I was in dubio what lens I should bring.Typical photographer stuff. Should I bring my trusty XF 35mm F2.0 or rather give my newly acquired XF 18mm F2.0 a chance to be my inseparable partner? Normal people would just bring both, or a standard zoom lens, to cover their preferred focal lengths. Not me though. I have been on an, almost pathological, quest to simplify my photography gear to the point that it’s practically not even there anymore. A hyperbole (or is it?), but you get my point.

When I started taking photos using just my iPhone, I was a big fan of not having to think about bringing anything with me. I could simply use what I already carried every day.

My roots as a minimalist

I would just have to make it work with any of the limitations that imposed. At the same time, those limitations allowed me to be a better creative as it didn’t allow me to ponder about what I ‘could have done’. Rather, I could just do my best and call it a day.

Lately, I really missed that mentality I had. While I do realise I was having doubts on a very small setup regardless, this doubt to me was the embodiment of how I became misguided in technicalities and lost sight of my ultimate goal: documenting my travels.

Sticking to my tricking

This resulted in that, when the time came to actually leave for Ghent, I didn’t really feel like taking photos at all. I just got an iPhone 11 Pro Max a few weeks ago so going back to my roots of iPhone photography crossed my mind more than once. Eventually, I caved and brought my Fujifilm X-E3 and both lenses. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t have the confidence to keep it more simple but I also was curious to see how I could document as much as possible without setting out with that specific goal. Concurrently, at least I was still trying to minimise my entire workflow to a single camera and an iPhone to do my post-processing. That might sound crazy, and perhaps unnecessary, but when I said I was on an almost pathological quest for minimalism, I wasn’t lying. I will write about how I do that in a separate blog post some time soon.

Challenges for fun

Anyway, once in Ghent the weather turned out to be, let’s say, sub-par as it was raining a lot of the time. The dreariness did alternate with some sunshine though, which was pleasant but also lead to this weird mix of moods in my photos. I would shoot a super moody photo of some wet street corner, while the next moment I was working with harsh shadows and finding interesting compositions with those.

All in all, this resulted in an eclectic collection of photographs with a mix of X-E3 photos interchanging two different focal lengths and some iPhone photos. I edited the whole series on my new iPhone in Lightroom CC on the way home. It didn’t even matter that much if I was working on an iPhone photo or a shot from the APSC-sensor camera the Fuji X-E3 is. I even managed to squeeze in a few handheld long exposures using the Live Photo function on the iPhone. Fun stuff!

That’s all I have to say for now. You are only getting started though, as you now have to take a peek on my photography archive.

Salut!

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