Berlin Kino 400 or The Joy Of The Delay



I tell people that I like film photography because I don’t feel the pressure to share the results immediately. I like taking my time. I also like thinking about what I am doing or have done. I love spending time with my images and as such that means sometimes they don’t get shared for weeks, months or years. These images are about three months old now. I just finished this first roll of Berlin Kino 400 Black and White Film. Developed in Adox FX-39 and then file it until I am ready. There are several advantages to this. I find that whenever I allow an image, or its idea, to matriculate naturally through my consciousness that the end result is always better. It is when I am in a hurry to share something, and therefore put less time into thinking about it and what it means or stands for, that the results are flatter. But another advantage is it allows me to draw out experiences like this. As my memory of the place matures and evolves or even degrades, the photos can come back in to fill in the gaps or liven of up the colours of the memory. But mostly I just like having the time to figure out my own images and settle on what their value to me is. And sometimes this does take a little while to do. But I also think, especially when social media is involved, it really helps to have that stuff figured out and answered before you put it out there in front of that wider audience.


Quantum Gate


Being a film photographer I move a bit slower and am more concerned with the nature of delayed rather than instant gratification. Also, this image happened to be the first exposure on the roll, meaning I had to make it through another 11 shots to finish this up and even see this exposure. The notion of first exposures is a worthwhile one to explore. A higher-than-normal percentage of my favourite images tend to be the first or last exposures on a roll because I tend to lend more weight to the making of those photos. For example, I typically don’t load an empty camera, or empty film back, until I have a picture to make. That means when a roll of film does get loaded it is because I have enough of a purpose in mind to motivate me to load film. And the film that gets loaded is being selected for the first image it will be used to make. Along those lines, when I get to the last frame I really try to make that last exposure count. There is no better way to wrap up a roll of film than with an image you are excited about. Another way of approaching this is to go out without any spare rolls of film. I did this on this outing with my two Hasselblad backs, one of which is dedicated to colour and the other to b&w. I opted to not take any extra rolls of colour film with me and that back was on exposure 10, meaning I had only three shots remaining for an entire excursion. It is limiting but scarcity can also place greater value. With only three shots, or by waiting on my first shot of the roll, or the last shot, I am placing a higher-than-normal value on those exposures and because I do so, I tend to enjoy a higher-than-normal success rate with those images.


Onward Ever Onward


Callac Lake Jan.2019

One of my photographic interests has been to collect an exposed roll of every type of black and white film.  For years I used almost exclusively just Tri-X. And I love Tri-X, but every roll of Tri-X I shot was a roll of some other film I didn’t and asking myself the question what would this look like with another film. I got a bit tired of not having good answers. What are the differences between Delta 400 and Tmax 400? How about Tmax 400 and APX 400? What does that Adox CMS 20 II look like? Or the Copex Rapid film? I think it is true that there is not enough time in the day to use every roll, which is why it has been a project that hopefully will never end. Unfortunately 35mm takes me half of forever. But I have been using my Nikon more and more. I can keep that trusted camera loaded with weird films and have been carrying it with me everywhere, trying to move faster than I normally do but not too fast that I produce a bunch of ho-hum images.


Wood Ducks Home Jan.2019

It is nice when I do finish one of these rolls though. I just got through a roll of the Washi S. It took about a month or so. I also underexposed it a bit because I thought it was ISO 80 when it is really ISO 50. Ooops. But that is ok because the results turned out interestingly enough. Deep shadows, high contrast, no grain. And that is one of the benefits to a project like this, it nudges me in directions I wouldn’t have gone without that nudge. Would I have tried a roll of this out otherwise? I highly doubt it. And hence I wouldn’t have made these images either. Anyway, just thoughts on this ongoing experiment. Now the Nikon is loaded with a roll of Lomography Berlin 400 film.



Susan New Years Eve Mont St. Michel 2018


Tree and Birds Jan 2019


The Road Before Us


These days everybody is a photographer. But the obvious split between taking snaps with a camera phone, or making Photographs with a camera had me wondering about a question that has been asked over and over. “How do I get better at photography, and can I offer some advice?” My response would be, go out and constantly work at it, by making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, teaching yourself and sticking with it through the months and years. Essentially there is no magic solution to getting better, you just have to go out and put in the work. When I started I had lots of questions and I answered most of them myself. Sure, the vast majority of what I learned I did by myself out in one corner of the world or another. I read a lot too. And looked at a lot of photography books. But mostly I was out there with my cameras thinking and exposing.

But there is a trap one can fall into when one reaches a certain point. They can look back at the road they have walked and forget how difficult it was at times, especially in the beginning. One can also easily forget that what might work for you may not work for someone else. For some of us, the best way we learn is out there on our own doing trial and error, but for others the best way they learn is through collaboration or mentoring. Perhaps not everyone has the innate confidence to go out there and fail, perhaps they need to have someone help them learn that confidence. Perhaps for them going out on their own to learn is not the goal, perhaps it is to learn in the company of others.  At the same time, memory is a dangerous thing to rely on too much and our memory of our journey from amateur to accomplished is likely glossed over in parts and skewed in others. If you have been making photographs for years and years do you really think you remember what it was like to be a complete beginner? I doubt I do, I would tend to doubt you do as well. But we think we do, and that is where it gets tricky.

We should also remember that we often take different paths through this realm and our destinations are often different as well. This can be tricky to keep in mind, I know, I have to remind myself of this constantly as well.


For Instance whenever I travel to a different city I tend to find one (or two) features of that city and really hone in on them. For example, during my first visit to Paris I spent a lot of time finding every angle of the Eiffel Tower that I could. I find that having something like this to focus on helps me keep an eye out for peculiar angles I might have otherwise missed. Part of that is the process of photographing something you are so intent upon. For example, if my goal is to find as many different perspectives on this building as I can discover, I’ll walk extra lengths around it, or I’ll make sure to keep its location vaguely on my radar so that I’ll glance down every alley that leads off in that direction just in case there is an unexpected view. The goal is not to produce a collection of images of this building, but rather give me something in an unfamiliar city to pay attention to and become familiar with. And when you are a bit adrift in a strange town, visually overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to sort it all out photographically, I find that this technique can help give me solid creative ground to start to work from.


Anyway, just sharing some thoughts.