Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Post Project Photography Adventures with an Analog Camera

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Previously I promised to blog about my film photography project, and writing about how it turned out.
I also promised to share a couple of my black and white photos taken with film and my experiences during the process.

I am not here to write technical stuff about the cameras I've used, except that I'll be writing more about my inward journey during this project. It is profound really, and there was always a part of me that appreciates photography because of the profound concept behind it. Including my own self-doubt / self-demotivation; I'll come to that slowly...

The Cameras
So as mentioned in this post before, the first camera that I was exploring with was the Canon Prima BF-9S- it's basically just a normal point and shoot film camera.

It was quite easy to use, and I was very proud of myself that I was able to learn how to load a film all by myself (was quite nervous since everything is digital nowadays).

Instead of just assuming that I knew the works, I told myself that I wanted to learn. And so I "Pour out the tea from my cup, to refill another new batch of tea". I have to admit that it wasn't easy to unlearn something to relearn. Why? because we are often self-judgmental, and that self-judgmental part of us is this side of us call EGO, the root of the reason why we sometimes refuse to let go and learn.

I did a lot of reading and I was mighty proud of myself to be able to pick up very fast. So that's when I bought the legendary Minolta 7000 Maxxum. Actually all these craze-phase started because lately I dug out my mom's vintage Canon AE-1 film SLR camera and few others (another legend, you can Google it) and I said to myself, how come I didn't make good use of something that I already have in my hands? It's right here with me, and yet there are people on the internet dying to get their hands on this gorgeous camera.

Thus that craze phase led me to this new hobby, starting with the Minolta. The Minolta 7000 Maxxum has an interesting story behind it actually; it's not exactly vintage, but it was the rise of a redefined SLR in the year 1985- as old as me! It's functions has been digitalized, but it's a really good camera with film.

And so with all these, I set out to look for films and others, and the latest one that I recently got was a prewar soviet camera called Smena 8M- a lomo (my love reacted adorably when I told him about this- he thought I made up the name of the camera, haha!)

The experience
I picked up fast as I said, i did a lot of reading and I came to learn a couple of other things like:

  • DIY your own filter to create effects
  • Using expired films to take photos
  • Understanding the different cameras and films (ie. Advanced Photo System is no longer in the making anymore)
  • Understanding different types of batteries. haha! But I can only remember what it looks like.
  • Getting to know which vintage cameras are still wanted til today. For example; Canon AE-1
  • Understanding that it is quite important to learn the art of photography in order to break the rules
  • Understanding the that there are two worlds in the world of Lomography/film photography

and much more.

All these in just perhaps 2 weeks or more.

After loading my first film canister, a feeling of self-doubt came crashing in like waves.
I recognized it, like an old friend because I've experienced this before. I wondered to myself if I was doing the right thing, if I was wasting my time exploring film photography, if I should just stay with Digital Cameras because it was convenient.

The one thought that stayed in my head was: am I wasting my time with film photography; was the one ringing in my head- and I remember this favourite quote by my favourite artist Vincent Van Gogh:

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Someone commented  that me taking photos with film is an expensive thing. I admit, it is quite an expensive hobby, but there is always solution to maintain your budget.

The thing is, I wasn't looking at money. But the art of intuition that came along with the interest.

What I love about film photography is:

  • It was exciting not to know how your pictures will turn out
  • I get to practice the whole "being un-self conscious" when you do art; giving in and just let your heart take control
  • I learn to appreciate everything little thing around me, hence I also appreciate my films since I am only limited by 36.
  • I learn to observe my surroundings and the beauty and rawness of life around me (ie. homeless guy living in an abandoned petrol station)
  • I learn to let my intuition take control
  • It's like using paint brush with actual paint instead of digital painting. Or switching off your computer for once and read a book, make art, craft, walk around and see the world.
  • I get to be authentic and natural
  • For a change, I don't have to keep correcting myself on the screen each time I take a photo (unless it's for another purpose/event). I unlearn to relearn
  • Exercising my creative sense

the list can go on...

First Developed Film
I picked up my first batch of black and white photos a week later. I was very excited and I didn't know what to expect, until I put in the CD to check on it.

The photos that came back was not very good. Most of it was blurry and was out of focus. Some of the photos turned out like an "accidental purpose" with a good arty feel to it. So basically I only managed to keep the few good ones.

I am a typical beginner when it comes to shooting with film- I learned where my mistake was and now I know the difference between shooting with a point and shoot film camera, a film SLR and a point and shoot digital camera; including understanding the can and can'ts with each camera. Example; I can't create a blurry background with the main object clear with a point and shoot film camera.

My thoughts on Black & White

I love black and white photography. Everytime I see a black and white photograph, it gives me a sense of silence, timelessness, and all things naturally beautifully captured and stored away in that picture- freezing that profound. Here are some of my photographs in slideshow:

I may have been a little disappointed at first, but after that I am determined to keep trying. That was how I came to purchase the Smena 8M (coming soon next post). You see, I realized that years ago, I was the cause of my own demotivation. I easily gave up- sometimes just because someone said something, or comparing myself with others, or.. as the Chinese saying goes "Just like a baby; you don't even know how to walk, yet you already want to run". Hence the reason why I am determined to keep on trying…

In my opinion, film photography is quite a fun hobby to venture into. If you have a chance to explore film photography, I would suggest you to give it a try. You don't have to be a professional photographer to take photos. A lot of these things is through observation, and appreciating your world, your life and your surroundings. It is no wonder those that I know, enjoy taking their cameras with them whenever they travel.

If you would like to give it a try and you are from Malaysia, head on over to Photo Crafts to get your film and cameras. If you are not interested in trying out vintage cameras, but still want the works, you can purchase from them their Lomograph cameras. However, if you are not local, visit Lomography website to shop for cameras online.

Check out these awesome inspiring Lomograph photographs

*Got photography tips? I would love to hear from you on how I can improve shooting with film. Email me.

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