We’ve all read the admonitions on the film boxes, the data sheets, and the manuals for our medium format cameras (you did read that, right?): load and unload in subdued light. So you do. And then you get a roll of film back from the lab, or you start to unspool a wet strip from your Paterson tank, and there it is… The dreaded edge fog, smoky little mountains emerging from the very edges of the film and extending well into the rebate, or perhaps even into your image area. In my case, I mutter a few choice words, and start to wonder if it’s just me.
On a recent trip to New Jersey, I picked-up a Hasselblad 503CW (a story all of its own, which I’ll highlight in its own post soon). Because I didn’t have any film with me, the camera shop kindly threw-in a few rolls of 120 so I could immediately start shooting. Since they also let me choose what I wanted from their film fridge, I opted for three Kodak rolls: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Tri-X. It was a beautiful day, lots of sunlight, so the Portra 160 went into the magazine as my first-ever roll of film in the new Hassy. When I got home, I took it for processing as usual to Englewood Camera. But the results were nothing I was expecting.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I went to sleep last night thinking about the 120mm lens that’s coming on Monday for my Pentax 645, and apparently, my brain decided to latch onto the notion of film photography while I slumbered. I woke-up this morning in the midst of a dream where I was interviewed for a podcast about why I like film photography. Weird, I know, but it did get me thinking about the subject in a fully conscious state, and since I’d come-up with something interesting during the dream, it seemed to be something I should write down.
When I started rediscovering film photography earlier this year, I went on a hunt — initially to find my Polaroid OneStep, and in the process, discovering all my old cameras, including my Minolta XG 1, and Canon Rebel G (500N). I also found something else.
With limited choices in film stocks these days, I feel compelled to try as many as possible — and actively support all of them I can, whether color, or black and white. That’s part of what drove me to try Lomography’s various color negative films. Well, that, and the low(-ish) price points. One of their film stocks that’s proven most interesting to me is Lomography Color Negative 800, or as I and many others call it, “Lomo 800.”
In early April, I did a blog post on Polaroid, right at the very beginning of my renewed interest in film photography. (On another note, I can’t believe it’s only been a month and a half; it feels like it’s been a year, given everything I’ve been doing.) As fascinated by and happy as I am about the former Impossible Project (now Polaroid Originals), I’ll be honest: I’ve been pretty disappointed in the reality of it. Just yesterday, I read this blog post over at Emulsive that really resonated for me.
Late last week, I received back from The Darkroom my latest batch of film processing. It was a mixed batch; four cameras, six rolls. And the results were also mixed. To be sure, there were some photos I really liked and am proud of. And there were also a ton of duds I didn’t even bother uploading to Flickr. But this process has gotten me thinking about film, about control, and about those results.
One thing I’ve done too much in my life is asking the simple question, “Why?” I’m trying to do a lot less of that these days, especially when I consider the ebb and flow of my multipotentialite-driven passions — some of which end-up being quite ephemeral.
But as I’ve begun to re-embrace film photography, I’ve been asking, “Why?” Not questioning the fact I’m doing it, but more to wonder why and how it appeals to me. I think I’ve unearthed some answers.
Readers of this section of my blog will know I’ve recently rediscovered some old friends, including my Polaroid OneStep, my old Kodak Duaflex II, and finally, the Minolta XG-1 I used in photography class back in high school, <cough> years ago. This week, I made a brand new friend: a Pentax 645 medium-format film camera.