My Month on Med Format

I've set a new challenge for myself. Shoot one roll of film per week. Why you ask? Because I was inspired by all the young people I see obcessing over film cameras.

It took me a while to transition all the way to digital capture and output. The capture part came last. Once I embraced pixels, I never looked back. Digital darkroom is just so much easier and cleaner than a wet darkroom.  I would look at these kids with their Holgas from Urban Outfitters and just wonder why?

Then I remembered one of the favorite movies I've seen about the creative process. It was a documentary about the White Stripes called, "Under Great White Northern Lights". Jack White talks about how he places instruments just out of his reach to make it more difficult to play. I'm paraphrasing, but what I understood is that it causes his brain to work in a different way. When you can't rely on muscle memory, you have to pay attention and be more in the now. More present. I've done something like this throughout my career but I didn't have that kind of intention. I just saw it was a way to narrow my options so that I only have to work within a small set of parameters. 


Creativity comes more from having too little than from having limitless options. So I looked through my film cameras and decided to try both my medium format rangefinders. 


Both are fully manual and one doesn't even have a light meter. My biggest challenge has been the focus. Some of these images are not that great, I include them because the focus was good! It's not like I NEVER use manual focus. It's just that my DSLR has an eyepiece that I can adjust to make up for my old eyes.


Some things I've learned about myself since shooting film again? 

  • I've lost some patience. With film, you have to be intentional (like Jack White says). When I shot film I took way more time thinking about the shot and getting it right before I clicked the shutter. I hadn't realized how lazy I had gotten. 
  • I forgot about the light. I was telling a photographer friend, "I see light now" which sounds weird because photography is everything about light.  I've been able to look at a lighting situation and guess what my exposer needed to be for most of my professional career. When I picked up my film camera, though, it drove home that I need to really pay more attention to the light and what it's doing.  I'm not doing any post processing with these so there is a small margin of error. 

Developing film isn't what it used to be.  I have one lab locally that will do it and there is no one locally that will process black & white film. It also takes a week to get it back.


I'm sure I'll learn more as I go on. One thing, it's not as much like riding a bike as I thought.