In your bag No: 1318, Hector J. Oca
I think this is probably one of the only true ‘Urbex’ bags that we have had on the site. Although at first glance this looks more like a burglars bag. Still, it is a pretty cool setup made for a very specific purpose. Check it out.
Hello there, fellow readers of JCH!. My name is Hector J. Oca, but my nickname is “Phantom Photographer”, I’m a Barcelona based urban explorer and street/documentary photographer. I’ve started photography when I was 12 years old, but I’ve started to learn seriously at age 25, specially with concert photography and some street work. and at age 29 I discovered a webpage called “Abandoned Places” (http://abandoned-places.com/). I just became fascinated with Urbex and started to make some pictures of ruined places, wich has become my primary interest since then.
For those who doesn’t know what “Urban Exploring” or “URBEX” is about (very few, I think), it’s the act of searching for abandoned and derelicted places, without breaking or lockpicking the entryways, just for the thrill of exploring them. And the reward of being there is really worth of it, believe me…Of course, in this discipline there are non-written rules that can be resumed in just one quote: “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”. It’s my personal credo, and if I can avoid leave even footprints, the better.
Abandoned houses, ruined hospitals, long-time forgotten factories…I love these places. They are like modern civilization ruins, with their stories, their ghosts…scattered documentation around you tells the story of these locations and what happened. Actually I’m documenting every place I explore in my very first serious Tumblr blog ( http://phantomphotourbex.tumblr.com/) and facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Phantom-Photographer-709206269209657/). I use Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hectorocafotografia/sets/) and Instagram also (https://www.instagram.com/phantom.photographer/), where I post not only my urbex work, but everything else I shoot, mainly street & some documentary photography. Probably soon I will try to make a real online portfolio with domain, but first, I have to learn some skills for it.
Well, enough talk about what I do and let’s talk about the one thing really important here: The bag I personally use. The gear I carry with me must have to be small, unobtrusive and easy to use. I don’t like to fiddle with big DSLR’s. For me, the inconveniences are bigger than their advantages. Everything described here in real world fits in one small shoulder bag and a smaller belt bag. I can even climb and run with all of it.
– The Bag: Mil-Tec Black Shoulder bag in stonewashed canvas: for carring things but in a very small bag. I need to be able to move fast and secure. Also, if I use this in the street it doesn’t look like a camera bag.
– Cheap belt bag: bought in a “chinese bazaar shop”, as we call them here. It’s just small, and comfortable to have some goods inside, including film & the other lens.
– Primary camera of choice: 1988 Leica M6 Classic that I bought from a friend with some spare batteries for the light meter. It’s small, quiet and almost inmune to dust. I have sealed some places of the body with duct tape for securing it and also for making it more discreete (that BIG RED logo was screaming too much, you know…).
The most used in those places is the “cheap-but-really-worth” Voigtländer 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar. I love it, it’s small, afordable, sharp…everything I need for a medium angle lens.
The other one and my personal favourite for close-ups, low light and just everything else relating photography is my canadian made 1982 Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Type IV. It has a customized brass focus tab, and it’s basically my signature lens.
I’m actually saving some money to buy a Zeiss ZM 21mm f2.8 for low light ultra-wide photography wich will be really useful. In a few months, I suppose.
For Black & White I usually shoot with Kodak Tri-X 400 for it’s sharpness, details and film latitude, specially at box speed, even sometimes I push it to 800 ISO, but lately I’ve decided to give a try to Ilford XP2 Super: It’s really cheap and fast to process in my trusted lab (I can’t process in my home yet, but soon I will be able), and has a reputation for its high latitude and high contrast. I have it stored in 4 units X-Ray Hama boxes, some of them in the fridge, separated by color (the yellow ones) & BW films (the gray ones). If I want to make color prints, I shoot with Kodak Portra 800, but I want to experiment with it first, because I want to make a “signature color pallete” for me, just as I do with my digital images. Probably I will try Fujifilm Superia 1600 to see what colors I prefer, but the Portra has almost won for his subtle tones.
For difficult light conditions I have a Sekonik TwinMate L-208. Sometimes I will be only one time there…
If I need to make some digital photos, just in case, I always carry my Fujifilm X-10 with spare batteries & spare memory cards, for its size and versatility. I can do incredible macros & details with this little thing. But sometimes, if I need to make a full digital photography workflow, even in urban exploration, I have a digital setup for it: Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the three original lenses, the fantastic Fujinons XF18mm f2, XF35mm f1.4 and XF60mm f2.4, it was my default setup until the arrival of the Leica.
My other stuff for these places are:
- Tactical gloves: you won’t touch some things there, believe me. Also, I have some allergical issues regarding dust. Quite an irony, huh?
- Reversible face mask: to conceal face and to not inhale God-knows-what. The other side has a skull grin drawing.
- Miltec flashlight with spare batteries: it’s dark here, you know :)
- Swiss made pocket tool/knife: a present from my father, who was from his father, and so on…
– Black duct tape: sometimes I need to cover or replace the one in my cameras.
– Water bottle & some food: To avoid being thirsty or hungry.
– Head cap: I have long hair and it serves me well to contain it away from my face and camera, and also sometimes it’s cold and helps to keep me warmed up.
My workflow is: I scan the negatives with my actual HP ScanJet 4370 & VueScan (I will replace it soon with a Minolta Dual Scan III for its size and quality. My actual scanner has a bit of fog in the glass), then I save them in my external hard drives & process in Adobe Lightroom with a special preset to compensate the high and lows of my actual ScanJet, but the digital files from the X-Fujifilms I process them with Apple Aperture 3 with a special color develop preset I’ve made, based on the color palletes used in movies like Jacob’s Ladder & Session 9, and videogames like Silent Hill saga or The Evil Within. I’m a fan of survival horror games or psychological horror movies.
By the way, I’m one of the few that shoots film in Urban Exploring (sure, they are others but it’s very rare, at least in my country). I just wanted to make it on film, for the tonality, the decay & retro aesthetic, the grain…the experience is worth in my opinion, and for this, I have found that I love Kodak film. Now experimenting with BW Ilford film, another big player here.
That’s all, folks! Now, if you don’t mind, I have to go out to take some pictures, we have a nice days here in Catalonia. If you got any questions, you can contact me in the social media links I’ve posted up! :)
Hector – Phantom Photographer
Thanks for sharing your bag with us, Hector. That is a very cool passion you have there. Keep it up and stay safe.
Check out the links and make sure you come and comment.
Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Japancamerahunter.com.
Send me a hi resolution image of the bag. Optimum size is 1500 across. Please ensure there is a bag in the shot, unless you don’t use one. The more you can write about yourself the better, make it appealing and tell us a story.
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