Wednesday, May 27, 2015

California Lupines On Film

A Trip Down Memory Lane

This is one of my favorite images from the last excursion that I photographed primarily with film. 

It took a while to find an undisturbed cluster of flowers. Small animals had been burrowing in the area, and most of the flowers were marred by ugly piles of loose dirt. 

It was nearly dark by the time that I found this spot. I remember setting up my tripod and squatting close to the ground. I remember trying not to damage the flowers around me with my feet or my equipment bags.

I remember working to focus the large mechanical camera on an increasingly dim image, holding my breath as long as I could under the dark cloth so I wouldn't fog the ground glass. I remember checking everything twice before exposing a sheet of film that I had loaded carefully by hand. Was the aperture closed to the desired stop? Were my exposure calculations correct? Had I set the tilt accurately to keep the foreground and background in focus? Were all of the knobs locked securely? Had I bumped the image out of focus at any time?

I cocked the shutter, pulled the dark slide, and hoped that I hadn't overlooked anything.

a photo of California Lupines at Sunset on velvia 100 slide film 4x5
California Lupines at Sunset - Velvia 100 Color Reversal Sheet Film (4x5)

I love digital cameras. They make photography so much easier with instant feedback and a whole host of convenient features. 

But capturing an image like this on film, doing so many things accurately under such challenging conditions and not being able to see the result until days or weeks later, that was an unparalleled experience - when it actually worked.

Will I shoot film again? Probably not, or at least not very frequently. Most of the color labs have closed down. It's difficult to find someone to develop these amazing chromes. Professional scans are expensive. It's far more economical to capture the image directly in digital format.

I miss film. I miss the look. I miss the tactile experience of working with it and the fun of using those classic camera designs. I even miss the hassles of film, like trying to keep it cool in the summer and explaining to the TSA kid at the airport why he can't open the box for inspection. 

Giving up on film was like losing a friend. A very close friend. But the economy and convenience of digital imaging is overwhelming. Welcome to the future.

Camera: Ebony SV45-TE
Lens:     Schneider 110mm f/5.6 Super-Symmar XL

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2015 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

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