Rather than write a load of blather I thought it would explain more if I posted a letter I sent to a photography friend.
Hi Fee, I’ve had an interesting set of experiences the last week. As you may remember from my message I was in Vienna, ostensibly to see a large exhibition of Robert Frank photographs. I originally thought the exhibition was a retrospective but it turned out to the collection of some super rich dude from Switzerland. It was seriously interesting because many of the pictures I have never seen before as prints, especially as old 1950/60 prints. It’s fair to say that despite Franks disdain for convention he was a masterful printer of Black and White photographs. But enough of that, to the point.
As I’ve mentioned in previous missives I’ve been working a lot lately as an event photographer, plus the occasional portrait to keep my hand in. The work is interesting and I enjoy it, but the event stuff in the final analysis, really quite boring.
Engaging on the day, but not really satisfying long term.
I’ve also improved my P.S. skills to a sophisticated level, which means I can do more with a photo and do it fast. Sounds great, but the lack of challenge translates into a dwindling in interest in the everyday world of photography.
Solution, go back to my roots.
Hence I’ve once again taken up film. In fact the only camera I took to Vienna was a film camera.
The difference in picture making is profound. For a start, everything is soooo slow. I’m using my medium format Bronica, which means first taking a light reading, a maximum ISO of 400 and no auto focus assist in low light shots.
And there are only 12 shots to a roll, so one needs to choose what one shoots with care.
I set myself a limit of one roll of film per day, which seemed insignificant compared to the plethora of shots I shoot with my digital camera, but the daily limit proved to be more than I could accomplish.
Instead of indiscriminately pressing the shutter button it was, do I really want this shot, was this the best angle, was the light right, would it print, was there too much/little contrast in the scene and how was it going to look in B&W.
Back in Berlin I had some old chemicals at home so I carefully processed what I considered the most insignificant roll. The chemicals turned out too old to work.
The roll lost.
Despite the knowledge that there wasn’t much of value on the roll, there is still the nagging doubt that there might have been something.
The pain of not knowing is real.
Ya don’t get that sort of emotion with pixels.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not reconverting back to analogue. I love what I can do with my digital cameras, but for a break from reality, film is so engaging,
fraught with risk,
offers so little in the way of reward,
the rewards that come take time to materialize,
which is exciting in it’s own perverse way.
it’s full of surprises. I guess the trick is to let oneself continue to be surprised.
Bronco SQA, 80mm, f4, Classic Pan 400ASA( 9years out of date), processed with Adonal Rodinol, 1/50 dilution.