In the book "On Photography" by Susan Sontag, she theorizes that the camera in the hands of a vacationer helps them deal with the anxiety of travel. Standing in front of any amazing site, leaves one perplexed as to what to do, but the act of lifting a camera to ones eye allows a socially acceptable action to be done. The refocusing of our attention to the camera, helps us assimilate what we are faced with and gives us a chance to process it.
When this book was written, film cameras were the only medium available. The picture being taken would not be viewed for days, weeks or even months later. Today with digital cameras the only thing that has changed is the immediacy of viewing the image captured. This being true, and with digital camera improving by leaps and bounds, why would one ever decide to take a film camera on vacation? Here I give my explanation for this seemingly odd choice.
1. Perfection versus Character:
Digital photography is an amazing medium and I often times take a digital camera with me on vacation. There is nothing as perfect as a image from my D800 of a landscape, city scape or even a street shot. But the perfection of the images removes from the character of the scene. What I am trying to capture is a scene and that is very rarely perfect. A film captured image, with the imperfections of development and printing, gives an image a character that often enhances a scene.
2. Extending the Visit:
The latency or delay of developing a roll of film, allows me to enjoy the scene a second time. It allows me to look at the scene with a critical eye after development is done, then through the selection process on a contact sheet and then finally in a darkroom as I print it. With digital I see the image right after I take it, select the image on the computer and spend five minutes on Lightroom or Photoshop refining it and rarely if ever print it.
3. Enjoying the Limitations:
Film is not cheap, so I end up being more selective on film. I have a higher hit rate which allows me to slow down and enjoy the limitations of film. The ISO limitations force me to take advantage of any "spoonful of light" (Don McCullin) and really think about the image. Overcoming limitations is part of the artistic process. As digital improves, there are less limitations making it less an artistic process and more of lucky one.
4. Digital is Less about Photography:
Digital is about post processing on a computer. Film is about the art of the capture as the limitations of the darkroom are such that I am unable to create anything in the darkroom. All I can do is enhance what was originally captured.
5. I Always have a Digital Point & Shoot:
This argument I am blatantly stealing from fstopcameras.com. The argument is a good one so I will use it. With my iPhone I always have a good point & shoot digital camera with me. It is easy to use it as it is always with me. So for the quick snapshots for Facebook or Instagram, I have a tool that is very well designed and always at hand.
6. Silver Gelatin Prints:
I cannot print the same tonal range of B&W in digital than I can in film in the darkroom. This could be my own limitation on printing, but there is a depth to a silver gelatin print that I just cannot match. I have a great number of digital images, perfectly converted to B&W that I cannot get a great print from. I wish I had shot them on film.
7. Digital is Easy:
Look at the images on Instagram, Facebook or all over the internet. Look at the number of photographers who are shooting amazing works of art. All of them are standing on the shoulders of scientific brilliance using digital cameras that make it difficult to shoot a bad shoot. Take a digital camera to Europe and you can make amazing images (using your computer) just like the thousands of others that same day. With a film camera, getting that amazing image is much more challenging which increases the satisfaction when finally obtained.
In all honesty, I typically do take both a digital and film camera with me on vacation. I love the benefit of having the immediate gratification while I develop my film images. But in the end, my favorite image of a vacation is usually captured on film.
It is a lazy Sunday morning, the neighborhood is quiet and I just finished a relaxed check on my film stock and found that I have a roll of TMAX400 120 format film that is expiring this month. So I loaded the roll onto my Hasselblad A24 back (more on this in a bit) and will take a walk around my neighborhood to try to capture 11 or 12 (the A24 back yields uneven spacing so occasionally I lose one image) images that tell the story of this neighborhood.
Before we begin let me set explain the challenge. The first part of the challenge is that I will shoot, develop and scan in one day. I probably wont make it into the darkroom today but we will see how it goes.
The second part has to do with my neighborhood. In Jakarta we live in a enclosed neighborhood, which means that everything is a bit boring compared to the streets of Jakarta so I will need to venture out a bit. There is a safety risk here, not really in terms of violence or theft but due to the number of cars, motorbikes and lack of a sidewalk. I will have to pick my composition based on safety first and getting the shot second.
Another challenge is in the format itself as the 120 format in 6x6 only allows 12 shots. It is difficult to find a rhythm when you keep having to reload film. I have an A12 back which has a half shot roll of HP5. I will take this plus one extra roll to give me a better chance at finding a rhythm.
So I left the house at 10am and returned at about 11:30, just in time for lunch. It was hot (Jakarta is always hot), but I had a great time. After lunch I developed the rolls and let them dry while I worked on some 35mm I developed on Saturday.
The pictures came out very well with only one that was a bit soft on focus. The only real issue was keeping the camera level. I have not shot with the Hasselblad and I guess I have become sloppy. You will see it in a couple of images so I do apologize.
I shot Tmax400 at an EI of 250. I developed the film in ID-11 at a 1:1 for 10min 15 seconds. This gave me a very nice contrasty image while keeping the grain I control. Overall I am pleased with the film and the results have deep tonalities, proper blacks with nice highlights.
You will see two shots of the same scene (the one with C pipes). The first was shot at 1/30 sec and the second at 1/60 sec. I first shot the scene as per my light meter, and then I realized that it would be too light. So I shot another with a faster shutter speed to give it the look I was after.
I love my gear, I enjoy spending time on YouTube to see what creative photographers are doing but we need to stop. We need to stop with the countless reviews of gear that has already been done a thousand times. How many different ways do you want to look at the Leica M6? I like this camera, but does it deserve three thousand reviews, years after it was pulled from production?
Film and the cameras that consume it, is becoming more popular, but do we need to continue speaking of the soul that photography has and how the Leica taps into that? I get it, it is a nice camera and sexy to film. I appreciate that making a video on film photography is easiest to do when filming the gear involved.
But we need to demand more from people who are making videos. We need them to show us something new, even if it is new to them as well. How to videos should not be about how to load film, zone focus or about verbalizing love of gear. We need YouTube creators to bring something more to the table, to advance film photography beyond gear.
I appreciate those that try to teach darkroom skills, film development techniques and the like. These videos have not been overdone, and each person brings their own methodology and insight into it. This demands that the YouTube creator actually go out and try something new, learn a skill and come back to discuss it. Hard work.
I would love to see more videos on photography. Let me explain, photography is about the photograph. It would be great to see creative minds study a photograph and walk us through what they are seeing. Discuss the composition that makes it work, the photographers selection of the scene and why it works so well. Ted Forbes used to do this (below are some links to his older videos that I love) but soon stopped.
Why do we not see more of that? Because it is work. Going into a darkroom and filming, editing and posting a video is hard work. Doing the background research on a photograph is again, hard work. Making a video about a camera that has been done before is easy. Look through a few videos to get some ideas, set up a digital camera to record you and talk into the camera. You can even preface it by saying that this is just your "opinion" and you are not an "expert" this way no one will hold it against you is you say something that is incorrect.
I do not troll people's videos and I do not leave negative comments because I appreciate that the creator may be on their own creative journey. But we should support the creators who actually go out of their way to do something innovative. The ones that put in the hard work and try to teach others. We need to stop watching countless gear videos.
Take a look at a few of these positive examples.
Shoot Film Like a Boss
Ted Forbes The Old Stuff
The Master Class
Photography is the art of the capture. If you love photography, you love that hunt, the planning and the final capture of an image. When you return from your vacation, exposed film rolls in hand or memory cards full, the question becomes what you do with all these images? What do you do upon returning home?
I have just come back from a trip to Cambodia, and I am sharing what I have learned and a few of the images of the five rolls I took, on this blog. As I finish developing the five rolls, I found myself in the darkroom selecting and making some prints. When I print images from a vacation, I am looking to select the images that help tell the story of our visit. Images that help define a place and the people who live there.
Out of the 180 film images I captured, I will select 20-30 images to print. I will also select some of the 500 digital images I have taken to get printed as well. In the end I will have between 30-50 images that will be my definition of the trip. But once this is done then what?
The first thing to do is print, it does not matter how. It could be in a darkroom, on a home printer or taking the images to a professional printer. The size of the prints are not important but the fact that you do print is vital. There is something special about holding the two dimensional image in your hand.
But then what? What do you do with the images when finally made? Here, I hope to give you some ideas that you might not have thought about.
The Photo Album:
This is the most traditional of options for your printed pictures. Putting together a photo album can be as simple as putting them in a specially made album, with small notes written beneath them. Or it can be as complicated as making a unique piece of art, with little mementos of the trip such as train tickets, hotel brochures and dried flowers.
A few words of advice if this is the path you would like to follow. First, be sure the images are completely dry before putting them in. If printed in a dark room, leave them out for a week in a dry environment to ensure all moisture has gone. If printed from a home printer, or professional, I suggest leaving them to dry at least three days. This ensures that when placed in the album, they will not bare any ill marks due to moisture.
Second, write the annotation on the back of the photo as well. Dates and places are key as are the names of the people in the photograph. This ensures that if the photo falls out of an album, you can quickly see what the photo is about.
Third, do not try to make the album too big. Keep it small and try to limit the number of photos on each page. The simple page, with an image or two will be more powerful then dozens of pictures on the same page.
If using glue, ensure it is acid free glue. The last thing you want is the photograph to suffer damage due to the glue.
The Photo Box:
This is one of my favorite methods to use recently. The idea is to purchase a box, roughly the size of the prints you are going to make, and store the images in there. Again you can add mementos such as tickets and the like within the box. Here, leaving a bit of room at the bottom of the image to write a bit about it would help or you can just write in the back.
A few words of advice on this system. First, dry the images again. Because they are loose in the box this is less of an issue but still a good practice to get into. Second, keep the boxes small. These need to be stored after all. A small box, about an inch deep will store plenty of images and still be easy to keep.
Hanging on a Wall:
This is really the best way to preserve and show your images. The problem is that one runs out of wall space rather quickly. I like to keep this for the absolute best images and the one that will bring to mind the memories of that trip.
Again I suggest that the image be dried as explained above before putting behind glass. Second, if the image will be in direct sun light, I suggest putting it behind treated glass which helps reduce the fading that will occur. If out of the direct sunlight this is not needed. Professionals will seal the image into the frame with humidity proof tape. This is done in a dry environment to prevent condensation when the temperature drops. You can do the same thing at home, or if the frame is cheap, let it breath through he gaps in the back of the frame.
This is one of my favorite things to do. I will select an image that I really like, print it up in the darkroom. After allowing it to dry, I will write a special note on the back and give it to a friend. Sometimes I will frame it but other times I will leave it for them to do anything they wish to it.
The fact is that in today's digital world, few people hold photographs anymore. Giving them a picture of something memorable on the trip, is something that few people get the chance to enjoy. I explain that there is no need to hang it or do anything with it other than look at it and enjoy it. Not everyone has the same taste so they may want to feel safe turning it into a bookmark (you can even print it with that in mind).
Christmas cards are a wonderful time to do this. To send a unique photograph to a few close family or friends is a great way to show you care.
The mixing of religions, cultures and philosophies has defined Cambodia and its people. The constant wars with neighboring states as well as countries that few Cambodian's knew existed, helped shape the art and attitude of its people. When I first arrived, I took everything that I saw for granted, as if it was the singular culture of the region. As I began to look closer, and compare what I was seeing with my other travels, I was able to see the pattern for its individual weaves. From the influence of India and China, due to the Silk Road passing through there, to the modern impact of imperialism, communism and democratic ideology.
"My friend called me and was telling me to go to the city and learn. I was doubtful, until my friend told me something that drove me to leave everything I knew, and everything I loved. He told me, 'if you do not come to get an education, you will never be able to travel and see the world'. I could not imagine a life without traveling to see the world. The next day I left home."
The shot above was captured with my Nikon F2 using HP5+ at an exposure index of 200. It is a shot inside the famous Angkor Was temple but it is a bit of a "tall tale". The reality is that this place is crawling with tourists who do not respect the posted signs so they are literally climbing the walls. Here I managed to find a family empty corridor and beside the corridor was this scene. I captured a few versions of it, some with my sons leg in it and other annoying intrusions. So if you plan a trip, accept the tourists as part of the experience.
Cambodia is about rocks, trees and people (both local and tourists). It has had its share of rough history, the killing fields we visited I did not take pictures of, but it has evolved into a poor but wonderful country. Angelina is revered there, not because of her humanitarian efforts, but because she helped put Cambodia on the map.
Shoot pictures of rocks on film is easy. These temples beg for B&W conversion (if shooting digital) or B&W film. It is all about texture with little color to add much if anything to a composition. The trees are a different matter. Lush greens mixed with wonderful brown bark give you some great compositional elements if shooting in color. So I would recommend either taking B&W and Color film or also taking a digital camera.
So what is the best film to capture the human spirit? Nothing can, but your outlook as a photographer should change. You are there not to highlight the differences between your home and Cambodia, but rather the similarities across cultures, to shoot the very things that make us all human.
Ah, yes the tourist. You will find a few of them. If you want to avoid them, travel outside of Siam Reap, where you will find some amazing temples, locals and monkeys, but few if any tourists. But if you embrace the tourist as a vital part of the new Cambodia economy, then they become a part of the story. Why tell the story of ancient Cambodia alone? Why not put it into modern context?
Hit rate, or the number of good shots versus missed shots. Simple concept but a much more nuanced philosophy when you dig down into it. What determines what is a "hit" versus a "miss"? Does a higher percentage of "hits" mean that you are a better photographer? Is it binary, in other words, a hit or a miss and nothing in-between? If so, does this make all "hits" equal? How can a professional photographer go out on a shoot and be sure they will get a "hit"?
As I started in photography I was disappointed to see that I only had a 5-10% "hit" rate. As I learned more about photography, I realized that after several thousand images I did not have a single "hit". What I thought were "hits" did not deserve to see the light of day. Does that sound harsh? If so, good..it should.
The only person who should determine if a photograph is a "hit" or a "miss" is the photographer, and there is the problem. We are too forgiving of our photographs so we tend to see more "hits" then we have. A good photographer will filter their images several times before having a set of "hits".
For example, if a good photographer goes out and shoots 500 images during a weekend shoot, they may set the images aside for a few days before going through for the first selection process. This is simply cutting those that are out of focus, accidental shutter releases, movement of the subject and so forth. Once these are filtered out, the remaining images will be gone through much slower. They may be post processed to ensure that the images are straight, cropped properly and that shadow detail is visible. The photographer will select the best from these.
At the end of this process the photographer might have 25 images selected as the best. Then the photographer will take one more pass through them, and this is what most of us fail to do. In this final pass, the photographer is purposefully taking the 25 images down to one or two images. These will be the "hits" of the weekend.
After several weekends the photographer will pull together 25-30 "hits" and will go through them, selecting the best one or two to include in their portfolio. So out of several thousand images, the good photographer will add a couple of images to their portfolio at best.
So for a good photographer, there are different levels of "hits", from his top shots of a weekend, to the stop shots of several months of work. The difference between a good portfolio and a poor one has less to do with the skill of the photographer and more to do with the editing down of the images.
So how is it that a professional photographer can go out on a shoot and know that they will capture something for their client? Simple, they do two things that most novice photographers fail to do. The first is that, through experience, they have a series of "go to" shots that work. They know the lighting, the position they want their subject, the depth of field and the angle of the shot. A good photographer will have 15-20 of these "go to" shots that they know will work for most clients.
The second thing they do, is that they think though the shoot. They come up with ideas that they want to try, not just one or two but a dozen or more. Of this dozen ideas they hope to find one or two that work. So between their new ideas and their "go to" shots they should have six or seven "hits" for their client.
This sounds easy, but it is not. It requires experience, hard work and a keen understanding of the clients taste. I could not do this for a living! But I can learn from this process and apply some of these things to my own photography. Can I seek out some additional "go to" shots? Sure can. Can I be more brutal with my own images? Sure can.
A high hit rate might mean that you are a good photographer or it could mean that you are not being selective enough.
We have just returned from a week in Cambodia, and I must admit that the trip was an eye opener on a great many levels.
On a familial level, and arguably the most important, the family bonded wonderfully well when internet was curtailed. We all had a wonderful time together and bonded more than I had hoped.
On a historical level, it was astounding to see a culture of people, so battered through war and violence, able to create such magnificent temples.
On a human side, I fear that the lack of justice for so many over the Khmer Rouge atrocities will only invite others to try the same.
On a photographic side, I only shot five rolls of film!?!? I was not trying to shoot less nor was I short of film. Why, during a trip to one of the wonders of the world, did I only shoot five simple rolls of film? Oh sure, I had my Leica ME with me and shot about 500 shots with it, but usually I shoot more film than digital. Film for me are shots that I want to keep, memories I will enjoy reliving during development and darkroom printing, while digital is a chance to catch something complex that will require a bit of digital post processing to replicate what I see.
So, considering this site is mostly for my photography friends, let me dive into the photographic side of things. This trip I took my Nikon F2, Leica ME and my iPhone 6. These all play a roll in my photographic plan of attack. Lets start with the Nikon F2, I went with this camera because on my last trip to Italy & Greece I took my OM-1, so I opted for the F2. No other reason, I try to take different cameras on different trips as it helps create memories of using that camera in that place.
For the digital I went with the Leica but it was a tough call. I wanted to take my Nikon D800 but it is summer and I knew it would be hot....and it was VERY hot. So, lugging around a second large SLR body was not something that appealed to me. I am glad I went with the Leica as I was able to do some people shots that the DSLR would have not been able to capture.
The iPhone is used for selfies, we do not do that too often but do like the occasionally family selfie, or to get a group shot where I will give the phone over to someone to grab our picture. Everyone knows how to work a iPhone but they are not very good with any other kind of camera! Finally I like the simple video capability to take short videos of the family. I keep this to 30 seconds or so, in order to keep the file sizes reasonable as well as to avoid making videos that no one ever watches. I find 15-30 seconds is about perfect.
I tried some different approaches to my film shooting, some worked others did not. I am developing the film now, with three rolls done and two more to go, and while that is drying I am post processing my digital images. The amazing rock architecture of the ancient temples cries out for B&W conversion, which gives me hope that some of my images on film came out well.
I will be posting more images over the coming weeks which will include some street shooting, portraits, videos and a few shots of monkeys....ok I will give you a sneak peak on the monkey shots...got to love monkeys!
I am a massive fan of B&W images, probably why I love film so much. From my perspective, digital B&W can only approximate the beauty of film, but that is the subject for another blog with much more detail. Today I just wanted to focus on why I sometimes do choose to photograph in color.
First, why I took this shot this way....
Above are two, exactly the same images taken in London with a Nikon D800. It was a typical winter day in London which means cloudy and wet. I am standing on a bank of the Thames, on a set of stairs that lead up to Westminster Bridge. I like this vantage point because you can just get people's faces but avoid distracting clothing. If I go farther down the stairs, I would get no people, just the bridge and tower.
What I wanted to capture was the cloud cover, let me explain. For a photographer, there are different types of clouds. There are white fluffy clouds that are dispersed through the blue sky that helps the sky to really jump out. There is the flat gray clouds without texture, which is excellent for portrait photography as it gives the best light I have ever seen but it gives a very dull backdrop. Then you have the storm clouds, these can fill an image with tension as we naturally want to get away from it. And finally you have the well textured set of clouds. These provide an interesting background which can really help balance out a landscape image. This, of course, were the clouds I saw that morning in London.
I chose an aperture of f/8 as this is the sweet spot of the lens, and boosted the ISO to 400 to ensure that I would have a fast shutter speed (in this case 1/1000 of a second). When shooting moving people, with a Nikon D800 I prefer very fast shutter speeds (over 1/250th of a second) which helps eliminate blur caused by movement, either the subject or my own.
I waited to ensure no busses or trucks were crossing the bridge and captured the image above. I shot the same scene twice, to help eliminate the possibility of having some odd facial expression from a passerby. I find that two images, when taking shots of multiple people, helps you filter out and odd face or movement that one of the people created.
Why some images only work in color?
There are images we have all taken with striking color. This visual element can make an image come together. When this happens we use color as a compositional tool, I wrote about this HERE and it can be a powerful tool.
The Selection of Color vs B&W
I must say that this image works both in color and B&W. I like the contrast captured in the B&W image but I also like the gold and green in the color photograph. So when an image can work either in B&W or in Color I will typically choose B&W.
The other day I was stopping by Scott Kelby's blog when I saw an interesting article that he wrote about the five stages of photography that we all go through. I wont paraphrase what he wrote and will suggest that you read the entire thing if interested.
The concept that we all go through different stages of photography, while probably completely incorrect, is interesting to contemplate. I do believe that many people follow a similar creative path as they develop (forgive the pun) their artistic side. I thought I would share my stages and where I am at in my own artistic path.
Stage 1: Buying the Camera
I needed a hobby I could take with me on our many international moves. I tried a variety of options and tripped over photography when our family camera, a digital point and shoot at the time, needed to be upgraded. I found "professional" digital cameras for a decent price. I kept looking, and my interest kept growing and I ended up purchasing a Nikon D300 over the internet while living in Argentina. I had it shipped to my mother's house and picked it up on my next trip.
During the wonderful wait, I tried to learn as much as I could over the internet. I learned about the camera, fundamentals of photography and the like. Sort of like a photography school which requires you to learn the basics before you even touch a camera. This forced separation, allowed me to learn as much as I could from all kinds of sources on line. I found out that I needed Lightroom, I should shoot in RAW and I definitely wanted to back up. I understood DOF but I had no clue how to use it artistically.
When I finally picked up the camera, months later, I knew how to work it and I began running around taking pictures of anything. The weight, size and feel of the camera made me feel knowledgeable. My pictures were crap but I celebrated the small improvements I was seeing.
Stage 2: Learning Post Processing and Loving HDR
I bought some different lenses. I bought a Sigma Wide Angle lens, a Ultra Zoom (18-200mm) and the absolute must of a 50mm lens. I loved the ultra zoom and only saw the limitations of the 50mm. The Wide Angle lens fascinated me with the perspectives I could get. So my photos bounced from a slow zoom lens to a ultra wide angle. I put a polarizer on the wide angle (what a mess), my pictures were horrible but they were 12Mp of wonderful color. I did not understand B&W and would often convert an image into B&W thinking this was artistic.
I played with Lightroom and quickly realized I needed Photoshop. So I bought Elements and between the two I began to learn about all the adjustments I could make. I would take a crap picture, and use software to make it worse. I was trying to imitate the pictures I saw on the internet in post and not getting it right in the camera.
I posted pictures on Photo forums where very talented people were far too nice in their comments. Through their gentle suggestions I began learning how to be less heavy handed in my post processing.
I discovered HDR and decided this was the perfect tool for all images. If I could add wide angle to the HDR shot I was in clover! I thought the contrasty scenes on HDR was cool. I wanted that odd effect that made people stop and really look at the image. The fact was that people did stop, and did stare as they wondered what was giving them such a headache!
I had my images printed massively. The bigger the print the better the photograph! I spent tons of money on frames for these massive, awful eyesores. I was awful but on a bigger stage!
Stage 3: Bigger & Faster is Better
I need better glass. I still love the zooms and dream of the Nikon Trinity. These three fast lenses, 12-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm was a great deal of money to spend on glass but they would be lenses I could use for decades to come. So I saved and bought all three.
I was waiting for a Full Frame camera, as this would allow me to take advantage of that wide angle lens and not worry about the cropping factor. This would make me a more serious photographer. When the Nikon D800 came out I knew I had to have it. I saved and bought it.
I went out and shot with this professional beast of a camera and realized how terrible my photographs were. My fundamentals were sloppy and the results were crap. I bought Photoshop to help take my photography to the next level. I bought classes at Kelby Training and I began taking better pictures.
My images were beginning to look like the shots I found on the internet. I began seeing my pictures being selected as the weekly winner on the Photography Forum I was still posting to. I knew how to "bring out the best" in my images, how to hide the evidence of my post processing and what to choose as subject matter to get the most number of likes.
I was using a tripod, filters and long shutter speeds. I abandoned HDR and was now looking for that single image the captured the light and color that are so popular online. I was using remote triggers and trying star photography, time lapse and macro lenses.
Stage 4: Film & Books
My father gave me his OM-1 camera. I loaded it with film and took it out to shoot and took the film to be developed. My shots were crap but I did see real B&W. Not the crap I was doing in my own digital conversions but real, organic B&W. I began to look at contrast and sharpness completely differently. I bought more film and took more images. I was spending too much on development so I bought all the chemicals and equipment to develop at home.
That was stressful. I had not idea how to use this gear and chemicals. I went to the internet and found "The Art of Photography" where Ted Forbes walked me through the process. I bought more film cameras, they were cheap through Ebay. I realized I could buy film cameras for relatively little money compared to their digital counterparts.
I needed a darkroom to make prints. I kept looking on Ebay for months until I found someone selling a kit near home. I bought it and drove right over to pick it up. He was a nice older man who threw in a bunch of old paper and more odds and ends. I began printing my own images, they were crap. I had not idea how to print in a darkroom but I was loving it.
Ted Forbes introduced me to Photography books, not how too books, but art books. I bought a few, I dived into each one, I LOVED them. I began to see photography in a different light. I began looking at the image as a work of art and not an oversaturated sunset that gets 100's of likes on Facebook. I began to read of Edward Weston, Sabine Weiss, Josef Sudek, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Strand. I was seeing the love, attention, effort and skill they poured into a single image to make it a work of art.
I began studying the different historical evolutions of photography from Pictorialism through modernism and post-modernism. I was looking at the different schools and how they influenced the perception of art, from the f64, the Photo League of New York through to their European Counterparts. I could see the impact the second world war had on photography and began to look at fashion photography with newfound respect.
Stage 5: Art is Simple....Good Art is Divine
Now I am in my fifth stage of my artistic path. I have plenty of camera gear because I love cameras and have begun collecting them. I understand that my passion for film photographs stems from the post processing restrictions that it gives me. I am critical of my photographs and no longer care to share them on line. I do not pursue the heavily filtered images that are so popular (I like them as well) and instead I work on that delicate balance between camera capture and final image printing.
I know wonderful art when I see it, I also know luck when I see it. I am fine with luck as I fully appreciate that I do not have talent but this does not prevent me from loving the attempt to make art through photography. It does not prevent me from appreciating those who do have a talent.
I mostly shoot film but went back to digital with a new outlook. I no longer need they latest gear or lenses. Any lens I can grab will work. Any camera I have will outshoot me. I found a Leica ME used for a good price. Less Mega Pixels but that no longer matters. The images are wonderful even if the technology is old for digital users today. The camera changes the kind of pictures I take, and I like the pictures I can take with this.
My goal now is very little digital post processing. I do the basics but I do not create the image. I do what I would normally do in a darkroom, I burn, I dodge and I crop. I also convert to B&W but now I know what I am after.
I want to print small and love the subtle touches in a photograph. I realized that subtle is where the brilliance is and in modern, Instagram photography, few people shoot subtle. It is too easy to overlook, you have to dig for it, you have to find it in the image, deep within the image.
The smile that the bubble string makes, the birds on the floor, the bubble man's bags in the bottom right. The magnificent and timeless Thames and St Paul's in the background with the instant bubbles in the foreground.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.