Li Shen - About Me

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Li (Lilian) Shen was born in London, UK. She came to the USA in 1979 to further a career in biomedical research. Li currently lives in Thetford Vermont. Alongside the pursuit of science she has worked in several different art media over the years, starting with drawing and painting, then ceramics and clay sculpture, transitioning into welded and mixed media works. She has always had an interest in photography but did not devote herself to this medium in any depth till 2013. Li is inspired by photographers in many different genres, but particularly street photography and cultural documentary - the multilayered work of Alex Webb and also classic masters like Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Matt Stuart, Steve McCurry, and others. In a completely different vein, the still life and cultural paintings by Dutch and Italian Masters are a source of ideas and enlightenment about composition, lighting, and atmosphere. In her photography endeavors, Li has been largely self-taught, referring to books and the internet for information, plus a lot of trial and error. She received valuable insights from photo tour leaders David Wells and Harry Fisch with whom she enjoyed memorable excursions into India, Cuba, Nepal and lastly Ethiopia. Her efforts have started to pay off, her work has been juried into numerous photography exhibitions at the Darkroom Gallery in Essex Junction, Vermont, The Photoplace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont, and an exhibit of artists’ books at the Artistree Gallery in Pomfret, Vermont. Her present goals include producing a cohesive photography project through a series of still life works and continuing to interpret the world around her through the lens.

My Comments on Using the Mamiya Cameras

Using the Mamiya 645E

My first reaction was - this is a BIG camera, physically larger and heavier than I’m accustomed to. (I am a user of light, mirrorless cameras.) In spite of the bulk, I found it balanced pretty nicely when held. Focusing using the ring focus screen was easy outdoors in good light and the camera was fun to use. However, my pre-pandemic idea for this project was to shoot portraits indoors. Under indoor lighting conditions, I found it was not obvious when the camera was in focus, the focusing system did not provide sufficiently reassuring clarity. I had trouble with advancing the film. I guess I wasn’t accustomed to the ‘feel’ of when it was properly advanced and I opened the camera more than once (exposing the film) because I thought the mechanism might be malfunctioning. Using the crank arm rather than the grip extension made it easier. The pandemic dealt a blow to my portrait idea as it was inadvisable to be in the same space as a portrait subject. Therefore I resorted to being my own model. Fortunately, the camera came with a 30 ft long ‘squeeze-bulb’ pneumatic shutter release that I used in all those shots. You can see the thin tubing if you look carefully. I felt that I got a taste of using this camera and regret that I didn’t have the luxury of time to get familiar with its full capabilities and the various lenses.

Photos taken by Li

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