When it comes to making lasting impressions on visual composition, Sydney-based project manager and photographer Perry Carbonell holds nothing back. The photographer’s sharp, distinctive yet quirky angles and perspectives, with constant experiments in long-exposure photography, are further highlighted once he used Lomography’s Atoll Ultra-Wide Angle 17 mm f/2.8 Art Lens for the very first time. Get to know Perry and his experience with the Atoll lens in this interview.
Hi Perry, welcome to the Lomography Magazine! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello everyone, my name is Perry Carbonell, I am a photographer based in Sydney, Australia. From a young age, I was exposed to photography by my family; my uncle’s room doubled as a dark room where he developed family shots. Fast forward a few years, I shot again with a 4 megapixel Olympus, but it wasn’t until Instagram caught on at my work when I decided to shoot with my iPhone. Slowly progressed to where I am now where I shoot analog and digital (and rarely with my phone).
As a photographer, where or who do you draw inspiration from and how would you describe your style?
I am inspired by everything around me, not just photography. It could be watching a new movie, finding out that the band you follow released a new single/album, going for a drive and experiencing an awesome sunrise/sunset, having a good dialogue with friends, discovering a new coffee joint, reading something totally immersive at early hours of the morning, or even observing how afternoon light in summer hits the wall in my living room. I am trying to be more appreciative and conscious of small moments every day.
I would describe myself as a moment photographer, I enjoy shooting small moments on the street, during a portrait session of everyday life. I do realize that ‘banger’ shots receive more likes on Instagram or on other platforms, and I do capture those shots too... but my life is not about the destination, it’s more about the journey, so I have more shots that are in the moment more than bangers. #lifebeinit
There’s a lot of spontaneity and movement in your shots – they are simple yet beautiful snapshots of everyday life. What catches your eye when you’re in the streets?
Yes, I am a moment man and I’m always trying to be ‘at the moment’. I have learned through time to take my time, after the bad habits of social media pressure of showing your best shots. I understand that it’s branding for some, but since I usually have my camera with me, my moments' backlog is quite big.
It’s hard to say what catches my eye, but if I were to describe it, it would be simple moments where I can look back and remind myself, “Yes, i remember what that felt like”. It could be walking around and looking up at street lights during blue hour, it could be a discarded bottle lying on the ground from the night before, it could be the morning light hitting my bathroom at 7 am. It could also be the aforementioned banger shot of shooting an approaching thunderstorm (which I managed to capture with the Atoll), or of a mate doing something daring on a cliff (but I left that scene a while back now).
On that note, I have a small humble collection of photo books and my favorite is by Sebastien Zanella, it’s photos that you look at and feel “hey I know what that feels like” even though he shoots a world away.
The best photos are more than just a photo, it’s a lasting memory.
You recently tried out the Atoll Ultra-Wide Angle 17 mm f/2.8 Art Lens. Could you give us some behind-the-scenes perspectives on your different series?
I shoot a mix of analogue and digital; I have a few fuji-x cameras as well as Leica’s (M6, M1), and other 35 mm and medium format's. I paired the Atoll with my Fuji XE3 and Xpro1 (using Metabones adapter) just to give me comparison between different sensors. I also paired it with my M1. The Atoll lens pairs really well with these bodies as it keeps a small factor intact which influences me to shoot with it more. The focus throw is smooth and step-less, and pairing it with Fujis means that I can get even closer to the 0.7 m of my Leicas.
With regards to the output, the contrast is not opinionated in that it’s not too high in contrast, which reminds me of some vintage glass I own (Industar and a Pentacon 50 mm). This makes it easier for me to do small 10-second tweaks in post. Also similar to vintage glass, the background is soft and buttery which really gives it good character. The color rendition was a little richer with the M1, using Lomography Color Negative 400 than it was using Velvia film sim with Fuji’s, but perhaps that’s also because of the background and time of day I shot it with the M1 (shooting portraits in the evening around the city). And I also like how the corners don't distort, or at least it wasn’t pronounced, which some wide lenses do. I previously gave up a wide lens due to corner distortion.
What was the widest lens you have worked with in the past? In your opinion, what’s the best reason to shoot with wide-angle lenses?
I shoot with the Voigtlander 21 mm with my Leica's and use a Laowa 9 mm with my Fuji’s – these are the widest I have gone with both systems. The best thing about wide-angle lenses is not just having the full context, but it’s the ability to give the scene a very different perspective. I especially love it when I can get really close to a subject and shoot wide; you can get amazing looks when you’re that close.
You tried out the lens in different scenarios and settings. What would you recommend to future users of the lens?
Get up close to your subjects, the closer the better to get that unique look which makes everyone feel that they were there.
On the street, point the lens a little bit off-center from people and you’ll still get them in frame. Also due to how wide it is, look for layers on the street. For example, if you’re traffic lights waiting to cross, the scene in front of you could be people waiting to cross the lights next to you, traffic, people at the other side waiting to cross, and buildings at the back. The wide lens will mean you’ll get all that, foreground (people next to you) middleground (traffic and other people across street) and background (buildings). I like getting extra close to the people next to me as the main subject. But of course composition, light and the feel of the scene are key elements to making that work too.
In addition, try stopping it down too to get sharper results. It’s got adequate sharpness f/4 and upwards and maybe particularly desirable with film (whereas it should generally be sharper with digital..but razor sharpness is not something I am looking for anyway unless I have a client ask for it). When shooting a busy street, between f/5.6-f/11 works well.
You also used the lens on your digital Fuji X camera. Are you happy with the results even considering the crop-factor? Did you have a different approach than when testing it on your rangefinder?
The crop factor is not an issue for me; the experience and the output are things I look for. Yes, I am quite happy with the results. They’re sharper with my Fuji than they are with film, without the images being clinically sharp. I do like shooting wide open and the lens provides a pleasingly old school character.
The astro shots/long exposures in nature are impressive! Which settings did you use for these?
The shot with the passing storm was ISO 200, time 40 seconds, and shot wide open. The shot with the lonely chair was ISO 1000, time 1 minute, and shot wide open.
From memory the lonely chair had a darker sky as there was some light pollution with passing storm shot. Interesting tidbit: I used an old, unstable tripod for passing storm shot, which was my first real attempt at astro, and did not use a tripod at all for the lonely chair shot (I rested the camera on the ground against my bag for support – I need a new tripod!).
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I always treat my portrait work as mini-projects; it takes careful planning and knowing the model, their wardrobe, their personality and matching it against a fitting environment. It’s not as simple as "turn up to a location with a pretty face and shoot". It’s actually more important to have someone that is comfortable in their own skin, and is a real individual. You can find my portrait work on @mistapc and on my website.
Outside that, I do want to start writing again. I was active a few years ago and I really want to get back into it. Does anyone read these days? Social platforms have conditioned us to read less but I still want to give it a go. But what I am really excited about is a project that I would like to start with Lomography. Hopefully more on this soon ;) #letsmakeithappen
We are back on Kickstarter with the Atoll Ultra-Wide Angle 17 mm f/2.8 Art Lens. Embrace a whole new perspective with a lens designed for full-frame mirrorless and compatible with M-Mount cameras. Discover our new Art Lens and back up the project on Kickstarter!