Let me introduce you to a rare, endangered species. It roamed the photographic world since mankind began to capture light in dark boxes, but has now been pushed to the brink of vanishing in the mists of past by the digital age.
May I present: The Analog Photographer
This one is a specially rare breed, as he is not only taking pictures on film but also takes the time to print them in a dark room. Which of course you won’t be able to estimate on a blog. Bummer.
Among normal 35mm film experiments he also does pinhole photography and medium format. And I’m pretty sure he’ll dive into large format too in the near future.
And of course, he’s owning a digital camera as well. After all… maybe the pure breed analog photographer is vanishing in the mist of time after all?
Although the blog is written in german, head over, it’s well worth it. Pictures are universal after all!
So I was out in town lately. In a really good mood, having my old camera with me and doing some street shots on black and white film. I had a great day and really was “in the zone” Always wanted to say that one day 😉
And then there were these 4 boys, probably coming from the local synagogue, happy to be out of school, their step having the spring and joy of youth. I saw them and for once, I knew exactly how the shot should look like. And when they passed me I turned around and – gotcha!
So, why do you need Photosho? or Gimp, or any other decent painting program?
Because, when I was back home, and developing the film, I managed to scratch almost all shot. It doesn’t really matter how, let’s just say I’m a huge klotz, ok? Really. Don’t let me do anything that requires thumbs.
When I scanned the negatives, I felt like cursing and banging my head on the table. So many good shots, all damaged beyond repair. And the four boys? Well see for yourself:
I was lucky. Only one big scratch. Nothing one couldn’t repair with the clone tool. And that’s why you need a paint program. One day. Specially if you shoot film 🙂
The crown of photography! The rush, the excitement! You will only get the decisive moment if you’re fast, know your camera, react quickly and, within a blink of an eye are able to decide for an aperture, set focus, frame and take the shot. Lighting fast reflexes, your heart beating like crazy as you’re up there, close and personal with your subject. sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? 😉
All of that was in this scene. I saw the couple, moved into position. A bus moved between them and me and I used it as a shield to peek through the passing windows, set focus and decide for composition (hoping they would not move). And as it had passed, I pressed the shutter and knew I had a picture that would be able to tell a story.
Back at my place, I developed the film and hung it to dry. And then I moved it before it had completely dried and the catastrophe happend – a still moist bit of film touched a surface. The decisive moment – ruined.
And here you go. Lesson to be learned? Patience. Good things come to those who can wait 🙂
Quite fascinatingly, when people look at my photos, they often seem to be more drawn to the ones that are black and white. Which made me wonder: “Why is that?”
Is it nostalgia? Memories of the good old times? Which by the way were not that good. Back when photos were black and white, the US went through the civil war and the rest of the world soon after experienced the horrors of World Ware I and II. So much about the good old times.
Is it cool, because it’s different? Maybe. But actually I think, we are drawn to it, because they are so much easier to read. There is only shape, light, shadow and contrast our brain needs to digest in order to make up a story. No distracting colors trying to tell their story, often resulting in a chaotic mixed message.
And yet, having only so few instruments to tell the story, black and white can be incredibly powerful, as the objects in the scene are not the only tools to tell the story. Depending on the way you process the picture, it can look very modern, with stark blacks, strong contrasts. Or it looks like a blast from the past, taken from your grand fathers attic.
And that’s what makes me think black and white photography is timeless. We still understand the language in these old pictures, as well as we soak in the message in a modern one. And we have all the freedom in the world to play with that language 🙂
And of course, having a wicked camera that has a built in time machine helps as well. I swear, the scene looked much different when I pressed the shutter!
So, lately I did it. I took the camera out, loaded with some black and white film and went shooting. And when I came back, I did some dark rituals, mixed mysterious liquids, muttered ancient old lyrics (and a few curses) and then hung the subject of my magic and let it dangle there to dry.
With other words, I developed film.
Why would one do so you ask? Well, first I enjoy shooting film now and then. I love to shoot black and white, but I hate to wait for the film to come back from the lab. And as it is not color film, they can’t express develop it, have to send it to the lab and then it takes ages and costs a fortune.
And so I thought: Why not giving it a try? It would be cheaper the long run, and who knows, it might even be fun to do it. And you know what? It was fun! It’s not difficult (well, getting the #ç&%# film on the the spool is tricky) and to see that there was actually something on the negative, was a very proud moment. And I was even positively surprised when I scanned the film. I’m of course biased, but I think it looked better than the stuff I got back from the lab 🙂