It is a particularly slow day at work today and i find myself tired of looking at website after website. My mind is drifting, looking back over the past year or so that i have been a photographer and thinking of the mistakes made, the cameras bought and the photos taken.
I remember first getting into photography because my girlfriend (now my wife) was a keen photographer. She had studied digital photography at college and i thought i would get a camera so we could go out on trips together, after all – she would come rock climbing with me, it was only fair i do things she is interested in with her. I ended up with a Lomography Diana F+ as i liked the look of the lomo style photos and wanted a film camera. I bought some rolls of film off Ebay (Fuji Provia and Ilford FP4+ if i recall) and got shooting. I got my films developed at a local(ish) lab and started uploading my photos to Flickr.
As time went on i kept acquiring more film and shooting more rolls and i really enjoyed it. Jess’ interest was starting to wane however, she very rarely picked up her camera anymore and when she did she just didn’t seem motivated to shoot at all. As i got more and more keen i started picking up more gear. A Jobo CPE-2 to develop C-41 film at home with, a Paterson tank for black and white developing, a Holga 120 WPC for panoramic pinhole shots, a Lubitel 166B, an Epson v500 to scan all my negatives and eventually my Bronica SQ-A kit. The Bronica is my main camera these days, it’s just great to have a camera which i can change film backs/lenses on and which has apertures of f2.8 on the lenses. Im getting into off-camera flash photography with it which is really interesting as it’s an extra avenue of investigation to take. I feel like i have neglected my Diana lately though, perhaps i should shoot more rolls with it soon.
I have also got into Polaroid shooting over the past 6 months or so. I started off by finding an old Polaroid 100 integral camera at a local antique store for £5. I got some Impossible Project film and got shooting. Not so long after that i picked up a Polaroid 645CL 600 camera from the same store for the same price. I stumbled upon a guy online who was selling 30 twin packs of Polaroid 600 film for £90. Needless to say i bought it, kept some for me and sold some (mostly to pay house-related bills). A few months later i discovered the Polaroid folding Land camera range. Wow those cameras look great. I scoured Ebay and found a 103 for £20 and bought it immediately. I modded the battery and loaded it with some Fuji FP-100C and got shooting. Not long after that i saw a 101 with case, flash and spare bulbs going in a local auction. I placed my bid and won. I have modded the battery but haven’t yet managed to load any film into it. Hopefully i’ll get some soon and it will all be working fine; im looking forward to trying out the flash.
It’s interesting to look through all my photos and see how i have progressed. Some of my favourite photos even now are ones that i took mere months into my photographic career. My favourite may well be this photo of Jess smelling a flower. I took it with my Diana on some cross processed Provia 400 and i just love it.
I think about all the technical mistakes i have made. Developing black and white film in C-41 chemicals, pulling film out of my changing bag instead of the paper backing, shooting a roll without removing the darkslide-all mistakes i am sure many people have made. But i guess we learn from making mistakes, even though we may feel stupid at the time. I have got my black and white developing technique nailed now and im happy with how my C-41 negatives are coming out. I’m still working on a definitive scanning process to improve the quality of my digital images though, and i haven’t even started to think about darkroom printing.
Im not trying to brag about the gear i have or what i can do or anything, it’s just interesting to look back at where i started and where i am now. The first time i picked up my Diana i had no idea that soon i would be developing my own film and shooting wide angle pinholes, swapping lenses on an SLR and doing emulsion lifts on Polaroids. I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for me. I would like to get a telephoto lens for my Bronica and maybe another flash and some extension tubes. Maybe even a Hasselblad one day (those Zeiss lenses are so sharp). I’d love to maybe even own a Graflex Speed Graphic one day and shoot some Collodion Plates. Maybe one day ill even have my own darkroom and i will be able to do my own printing, which would open up a whole new world on toning, tinting and alternative processing.
Im thinking lately about getting shooting slide film normally instead of with a view to cross processing. I have some Fuji Velvia 50 in my film box which i have cross processed every time i have shot it; perhaps it’s time i got it developed in E6. I’ve also been working on some cyanotypes lately. My wife bought me some Sunography paper, but i note you can get kits from Silverprint that you can use to coat your own paper; perhaps ill invest in a kit at some point soon.
When im not shooting it’s nice to look around on websites like Flickr or THIAPS for inspiration, or the Strobist site for lighting technique. Sites like APUG are good as well as it’s good to be able to advise others and get advice yourself from people who know what they’re talking about.
But for now im content with what i have and what im doing. Im happy being able to just go out and shoot with my different cameras and films; finding new locations and honing my skills, working on new techniques and improving my shots.
That’s my story so far anyway. I’m sure that soon there will be something to add to it.
I’d love to hear from you about your story, however long you have been shooting. Feel free to comment on this blog or even email me about it.