This image from a Chicago museum trip lived quietly on a contact sheet and in a binder full of old negatives from photo studies in 2004. I shot a mix of 35mm and a newfangled 2 megapixel digital camera that day, but hefted up the Bronica SQa for this 6×6 square medium format negative to catch a moment of the trip too.
I framed up this shot of patrons in the halls walking, discussing, and enjoying the art as anonymous silhouettes with the help of the camera’s waist level finder. It was a passing pause on a day around the Windy City enjoying art, culture, and image making adventures.
Every walk is a photo walk if you have a camera handy. #JustGoShoot
Tech specs: Camera – Bronica SQa / 75mm f/2.8 Zenzanon lens | Film: Kodak Tmax400 120 black and white roll film | Developer: Kodak D76 standard time & temperature
On a quiet Monday evening several springs back I meandered Saugatuck, Michigan with a camera and tripod. Monday was my weekend, this quiet town was somewhere new. The moon was astounding that night and the piers were a quiet spot for a pause along the Kalamazoo River.
While rummaging for some #ThrowbackThursday images to Instagram I noted several rolls of unmarked, processed 35mm film I had set aside in 2012 and all but forgotten about until early 2015. Holding the negatives to light I instantly recalled the moments I took with my Holga but was surprised by the images I had waited to see once they hit the scanner.
Previously Unpublished image from a wandering at Weko Beach, Bridgman, Michigan, spring 2006. Hoping for a dramatic sunset I arrived for a calm, overcast dusk and low key images along the boardwalk.
Specs: Trusty Nikon D70, Program exposure mode decided on 1/30th second exposure at f/7.1, my how my shooting experience has changed since learning to shoot in manual mode. Filtered with VSCOcam & Instagram.
After picking up a shiny new 6-megapixel digital SLR in 2004 I found myself using less film. Make that near no film at all. I had done my homework, invested in a camera brand / system that offered lenses compatible with my 35mm film equipment as well as the newest digital camera bodies. Experimenting in digital photography was effortless, the results instantaneous. This was a huge boost to my already inquisitive imagination as far as tinkering with ideas, reflections, abstracts go, and made learning manual exposure techniques far, far easier when the results could be previewed on an LCD screen.
This yellow fellow was photographed with slide film for a color photography class study in cross processing. As with so much of my film photography, it sat in boxes & binders… until now.
Between the bokeh of a very unfocused background and the colors of the alternative film processing I ended up with an almost watercolor paint blur of shades behind the flower.
Next time you fire up Instagram, know the odd filters packed in the app have… (dandelion pun!) roots… in old-fashioned film photography.
My late teens and early twenties were a blur of travels and my blurry film photography thereof. In 1998 I found myself visiting Beijing, China. I flipped through the photo album last week, searching for some previously unpublished image to upload, and found this photo tucked away, almost forgotten.
It comes from a time when I did not -invariably could not– simply dial up the ISO sensitivity for low light evening photography. If I wanted a black and white photo of a moment, I shot black and white film. I have both color and black & white images of these dancers. I carefully rewound my last roll of color negative film, marked the canister to remind me how many frames I had used, and loaded a roll of higher sensitivity black & white film, advancing beyond the frame last shot used before composing and adjusting settings for a new image. It was an undertaking.
Now a decade and a half later I had to stop and think where I saw these dancers when I paused and decided to shoot the moment both in color then reload for this monochrome image. No metadata, no GPS tag accompanies the image. Unless I noted in my journal that I had observed this performance the handful of frames I photographed is all the detail and memory of it left.
That, perhaps, is what draws me to share this image most from my first travels in Beijing – the faintness of my own recollection. I had the determination to spend some of my limited 35mm film supply to record the moment, persistence to unload one type and reload a different film, yet today remember nothing aside from the prints in the album.
My photos show it was a hazy, late summer evening when this was taken outdoors. Adults in modern dress danced under the incandescent glow of the bulbs outlining the rooftop behind them. Some of the dancers are blurs of movement, rapid steps and turns caught mid-stride.
It haunts me. A mix of dreamy haze and already nostalgic black and white travel scenery only adds to my minuscule mystery trying to recall the moment I took this photograph. Perhaps it’s good fortune to have forgotten so much surrounding the minutes of my late teens when this view crossed my camera’s viewfinder, if just to see it years later and spark my curiosity. -eB
Happy accidents were a major part of my early film photography adventures. Using manual-focus and manual exposure 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) cameras and lenses in changing lighting conditions, focus, and a 15-year-old’s attention span resulted in more than a few unfocused, under- or over-exposed, or otherwise just “off” frames of film. Hours, days, sometimes weeks later I would see these slices of 35mm once they had been processed & printed on paper. I remember tinkering with the shutter speed dial when taking this photo, guessing my way through the first few rolls of drugstore special 35mm film before I found a manual to the Olympus OM-10 camera. I’m lucky this roll was even loaded correctly; my first attempt never caught the take up spool and 36 frames of memories were exposed one atop the next, amounting to a disappointing wait to see that I had a lot to learn about these cameras before even taking a usable photo.
This image came back badly-exposed, printed with the hopes of salvaging an image from the ill-exposed negative. And it became a favorite print, a reminder that my earliest enjoyment of photography wasn’t about technically perfect image creation, but the enjoyment of the hobby.
Conversations about how to take and make great photos have come up all this week and every time one of my photos is referenced it seems my best explanations for the images taken is simply dumb luck. Having a camera nearby and ready is a large part of the formula, but serendipity when holding the camera up to my eye has been responsible for supplying great subjects, sunset lighting, or reflections.
Dumb luck / preparation / serendipity struck again when I pulled off the Pacific Coast Highway to shoot some of the shoreline. I turned toward the land and perched to wait for a passing car to add interest to the foreground, and saw a yellow dot in the distance. I lucked out when a sharp yellow Chevy Corvette convertible came zooming by.
Today’s free lesson – keep a camera handy, and be ready. You never know when a sharp subject will line itself up for you.
Nikon D200, 24mm f/2.8 lens at 1/160 sec f/6.3 ISO 100
I backtracked for a camera on my way to breakfast at Albuquerque’s finest Motel 6. Taken during the great southwest stretch of a cross country road trip south along Route 66 and Interstate 40 west to California then north to Oregon.