Sunday, 25 August 2013

Back to my Roots

Posts have been few recently,  due to a combination of lacking in general motivation and being unhappy with my photography.  My mind has wondered back to when I started my photography – 16, at college, learning the basics using black and white film and developing, then processing the images in the darkroom.  It’s what got me really hooked into photography and a natural progression from the drawing and painting that I had enjoyed previously.  For me it was an amazing experience to take a roll of images, go back to the darkroom, develop them then put them under the enlarger, exposing onto a 10x8 sheet of paper and watching that image gradually reveal itself in the developer, as if by magic.  In todays digital, instant gratification, few have the patience for this, but I probably enjoyed my photography more during that time, that any since. 

This reminiscing in turn, has led me to dig out my old Olympus camera system which I haven’t had the heart to get rid of, despite once, after buying my first digital camera, taking it into Jessops to be valued.  When the man behind the desk started to shake his head, mutter about condition, age, etc., I just put my cameras and lenses back in my bag and left.  These weren’t just items of equipment but memories and experiences of happy times.  My OM 10 wasn’t just a relic of the past but almost a family member.  I’d rather have given my prized system to a good home, somebody who would appreciate it than be devalued and derided by someone behind a shop counter.

I did think that maybe I needed to get a roll or two of Ilford Pan F Plus, load up the camera and just do what I used to do and simply take photographs.  Both my OM 10 and OM 40 cameras work as good as the day I brought them – I wonder if any of my digital cameras will still be at the same age.  However, I decided to stick with my digital camera for now, though I still plan on using some film in the near future.  I’ve always felt my Canon 5D came close to the feeling of a film camera.  By todays standards it’s very basic, but it’s full frame and it’s technological minimalism is which makes it similar in use to what I used to use in my film days.

To help with the whole ‘retro’ feeling, I set the cameras settings as black and white, although shooting RAW means the actual files will retain all the colour information taken, the preview will show it in black and white, helping me not to get distracted with colour.  I also decided to go out with one lens and a tripod only, along with a few filters and cable release.  The early morning weather down at the coast was one of overcast and misty, giving the views a flat, washed out look anyway.  Placing the camera on a tripod helps slow down the picture taking process and makes you look around the view finder a bit more.

I only spent a short time down by the coast and took the equivalent of a 36 exposure roll of film.  On returning home I converted them to black and white using the colour channels to give the same effects of a red or yellow filter would have done on a film camera.

I don’t know if I achieved what I set out to do.  I think I still need to have a go at using a film camera again and I certainly think I just need to just get out and take photographs – of anything – just to enjoy myself again.

I’ve put together a few of the images, the first two working well as colour or black and white but the others only seemed to work without the colour.


Black & White – colour comparisons, above and below


Black & White – colour comparisons, above and below



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