“I need a newer/older / film/digital / manual/automatic camera/lens/computer first.”
This new year has been 3 days -and a few leading up to it last year- of kicks in the pants to get a camera and use it. Not a new one – one within reach. A phone if I have to. Create already. Reminders I find in old film photo prints I keep running into that I had no idea what I was doing when I took most of the shots, but I tried an idea anyway. Reminders I find in the photos of friends very new to photography who are trying their ideas wildly and doing so with great creativity.
The shot above is flawed, flared, and yet is a favorite (from film photography follies in Florida if we’re going to go on with the alliteration). My job at the time relocated me to live on a ship in a tiny town marina outside Jacksonville, Florida. In what has been a trend since my elementary school days I am up awake into the morning hours writing, and did so often in my travels. I had a pair of 35mm Minolta SLRs, a compact tripod, and hours of the night to think. For my first eBay purchase I picked up a light meter to help me judge nighttime and long exposures and began to photograph the ships, marina, and town around me after dark.
I had an idea of how to set the film camera to get correct lighting where I wanted it. I knew a few tips. Most of all I knew that if I wanted to take a photo I’d have to press the shutter release. I’d have to just try.
When I got the prints back from my evening shoot around Jacksonville I was a bit let down that I had been blasted with lens flare. I liked the way the street light looked in the foreground but forgot altogether what might happen with a light source right in the frame shining my way. I shot for 15-30 seconds to soak up more background light and let the lines of people going by blur. This much had worked as planned.
What surprised me was that behind the moving crowd sat a couple along the walkway’s railing. They sat still enough to remain sharp in contrast to the crowd in motion that now appear as streaks. If I had arranged the shot I could have recreated this look easily. They are a happy discovery from a photo made while just tinkering with ideas and playing to motion blur during long exposures, reminders that you never know what you’ll find unless you try.
I love eBay shopping. Random, unpredictable, spontaneous, competitive shopping. After getting a gem of a low tech camera – the Holga – I looked around on eBay for expired film. Wacky color shifts and even more unpredictable photo outcome. Here’s a sampling of the slide and print film from the mid 1990s that should have some fun outcome!
Want to shoot some old film in a cheap plastic camera too? Pick up a Holga on eBay or Amazon. If you like what you’ve read here, buying through these links drops some change in the photo supplies jar. Thanks!