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Friday, June 23, 2006

Ramblings on photography, Part 1

One of the reasons I love shooting film (and therefore one of the reasons I loved shooting pictures, before all this new-fangled stuff came out) is the anticipation and surprise factor. Developing a mystery roll of film can be better than Christmas. You don't know exactly what you'll find. Even if you do have an idea of what was on the roll, the longer you wait to develop, the less you will remember of the shoot. I had one photography instructor who actually advised us to wait a while before developing our film, so that by the time we looked at it we would be free from the expectations we might have had immediately following the shoot. If it wasn't necessary to get the film back right away, then let it sit for a month, a few months, even.

Well I have taken this advice to the extreme, out of a mix of budget constraints and some laziness (after a certain point, I think it was about 5 years ago, I decided I was not going to develop my own film anymore, because I hated it. I was shooting a lot of color anyway, and you don't commonly develop that in your home darkroom, as it involves really nasty chemicals.) Anyway, the result is about 50 rolls of backed-up film from the last 3 years, and a few scattered rolls, mostly b/w, that are between 8 and 13 years old and I just never got around to developing (because I lost interest in whatever it was I shot, and/or it was some weird kind of film, or I had pushed it, and the lab would charge me extra to process or I'd have to do it myself, and we've already outlined my views on that.) Recently I did some research on developing film that is over 10 years old. A lot of people agree that it can be just fine (black and white; color tends to shift) depending on the storage conditions. Wellll....I can't speak to the exact storage conditions for the entire time, but let's just say they've probably been at room temperature for most of it. Not ideal, but better than a hot car glove compartment, right? Anyway, I'm looking forward to eventually seeing what is on those mystery rolls (and yes, I may have to do them myself, or maybe pay the lab extra.)

As far as the other 50 rolls, they are mostly color, and they are mostly snapshots (as opposed to Art-which I mostly define as the difference between when I am just shooting whatever comes by versus going out on A Shoot. The former always involved my beloved Lomo, the latter usually a combination of cameras, including whatever heavy SLR I was lugging around at the time.) Out of necessity (budget), I have sort of replaced my Lomo with a digital for everyday shooting. Yes, I, the girl with the "Film Is Not Dead" t-shirt-I have gotten a digital camera. This does not mean I have "gone digital" like so many photographers do in this day and age. I still have all my darkroom equipment (just no place to use it), my film cameras, and I have every intention of using those when I go out on a deliberate shoot. Plus, there are just some things the digital camera can't replace-like the aforementioned Lomo or the Holga, one of my other loves.

But I realized the situation was ridiculous because: I was carrying my Lomo around all the time for on the spot shooting, which it is very good for because it has the smartest little automatic settings of any camera I've seen and it's small enough to carry in my purse. But the result: I was shooting (and buying, of course) rolls and rolls of film, and then paying about $13 a pop to get them developed and scanned to CD. Because once I started doing this I became addicted to being able to see my shots on the computer, upload them and share them with people, and I needed some way to view them anyway and it's a better deal than getting a set of prints and takes up way less room. (I stopped getting sets of prints about 3 or 4 years ago.) If any of you have ever gotten your film processed only, and then tried to see what was on it-I don't find that to be a very satisfactory way to view my shots. You can't really tell whether they're good or not until you see the positive.) Anyway, the film would get all backed up because I couldn't afford to keep up with my shooting rate, basically. So despite the letting film sit theory, I realized I gotta put a lid on this-at this rate, by the time I pay for developing and scanning those 50 rolls, I could buy myself 2 digital cameras. (That doesn't take away the fact that I still have to process that film...but at least the pile won't grow at such an exponential rate.)

I like the digital camera I've gotten; it's a good compromise between a "big gun" SLR (like the pros use) and an "idiot-proof" point and shoot. It has some cool effects and manual settings so I can have more or less control when I want it. And it's not the smallest of the batch, but it's small and light enough to fit in my purse.

Anyway. I recently had a purge and took about 10 rolls in for processing; I'm doing them chronologically because they all end up on the same CD and also because I'm trying to do the oldest film first so it doesn't get any older. So this batch was all from '04-mostly fall. None of these were labeled, so it was all mystery film. And there were some surprises!

Below are a few I found especially pleasing. The first two are from Halloween of '04, and the rest are from a trip down to CA-I think it must have been in the fall.



This is me the halloween before last, with a little photoshopping to make it look like an old silent-film still.



Look at my HAIR!! (That was a pain in the ass to do, by the way.)


Jason napping on the Coast Starlight


Self-portrait on train


My mom's cats, sitting pretty


Some graffiti down by 4th street in North Berkeley


View of the Jack London station at night


My dad, waving goodbye to the train as I depart


Pic taken from the train with a fisheye lens

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I love this picture!