191115 YQM to YYZ - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Moncton to Toronto in Two and a Half Hours

A plane passing a navigation beacon on its way to land.

But knowing what plane, specifically, adds more to the photo. It's on its way to Toronto from New Brunswick, and has been flying for two and a half hours. It has already made that trip three times by the middle of the afternoon, and its day isn't done yet. It's only five years old, and there's no reason why it won't keep up this pace for another fifteen or twenty years.

Every person on board has a reason for making the trip, and surely they're all looking forward to arriving and being able to stretch out again. The high wing means that every window has a good view, but they've been over clouds for most of the flight. These turboprop planes are more efficient than jets and can serve more airports, but they can also be loud, bumpy, and – with some airlines – a bit cramped.

Or maybe knowing and imagining that doesn't add to the photo – it's just a plane passing a tower, or just a collection of shape and tone. That's okay too. But I like knowing the rest as well.


This is the photo that convinced me that I can use a rangefinder loaded with black and white film for the kind of photography that I enjoy.

I've long known that I can also use a film camera, but it's always been secondary to digitals. Now I know that I don't need the electronics at all, which is a big difference. I also tried to take this photo with my zoom-equipped digital, and failed many, many times. I also chose to use the digital camera instead of film for the main attraction of the day, a Boeing 747, and I know now that film would have given me a better result.

Buying the ZM Ikon, the camera that I've used here, was a way to side-step the samsara of digital upgrades. I forgot that for a while. My Fujifilm X-series cameras are very capable, but they're mid-range compared to the broader market. That's fine – they're plenty for what I need, and I plan on using that system for a very long time. But with luck I hope to use a basic film rangefinder, and simple prime lenses, for much longer.


My favourite aspect ratio is essentially the "golden rectangle", and it works nicely on screens as well as on paper. I print my photos as roughly 16" by 10" (40cm by 25cm) on 13x19" paper. A good scan produces plenty of dots for that, and it doesn't matter that there's less actual detail than in the 24Mpx digital camera files that I also use. The result is sufficient.

This photo has been cropped for aspect, but includes the edges of the negative as a further design element. It was shot with a Zeiss Ikon rangefinder with the ZM 2/35 Biogon lens, wearing an orange filter, on Ilford HP5 Plus film pushed to iso800. It has been scanned, tweaked, sharpened, adjusted – and make for a very nice print.