It’s always a “resolution” or “goal” or whatever of mine to take more photos — especially with my film camera. I have a Canon Rebel GII that I got in high school, after spending a year with my mom’s old Nikon for a photography class. I fell hard for black & white photography, especially the darkroom. I won’t pretend to be anything but a slightly-above-average photographer, but man, I love spending time in the darkroom. Messing with the enlarger, crossing my fingers while making a print, then slipping the photo paper into the developer bath and watching it appear is like magic. I can kill an entire day in there and not even notice.
So this year, I’m trying to take myself on “photography field trips” at least once a month. I’m already behind — but I’ll catch up over the next couple months. In January, I lugged my camera to Pacific Beach for any afternoon. It was gorgeous, of course, and for some reason I already had a new roll of color (??) film in my camera, so I had to use that up first.
(I actually didn’t realize it was color until I’d taken the entire roll and switched it out. I never buy color film and never leave film loaded in my camera. I can only conclude that sometime in the past year or so, I had special intentions to take film photos at a certain event…and completely forgot.)
Not knowing what shots I got is both the best and most frustrating part of using film. Frustrating because film is expensive, yo, and when I was taking classes (especially when I took a “fine art” photography class in college…) I’d count myself lucky if I developed a roll and had 3-4 frames my teacher deemed worthy of printing. I can relax my standards a bit now, but I still purse my lips when I review the contact sheet.
Of course, sometimes there’s that one absolute money shot. The one that makes me go “how’d I manage that?” One of the portraits I took in college was like that.
And sometimes there’s the shot that has potential but will require a lot of work to get a decent print off the negative. It’s something that’s been under- or overexposed and has lots of really bright and/or really dark areas that need to be burned (make a bright area darker) or dodged (make a dark area lighter). It’s a mess, and a massive pain the butt, because I’ll make a ton of test strips, try a few prints, adjust one section, try again, need to adjust another section, repeat. One time I had a print like that and after at least a dozen tries, I had the perfect print — and then someone else’s paper got stuck on it in the developer and there was this big line across the middle.
One day we’ll have a house with a garage/workshop and my husband will build me a darkroom (he’s already promised). And I won’t have to scrounge for every scrap of photo paper I can find (and being forced to use glossy when I really want to use matte, or vice versa) like I did in college when I was flat broke and had to cover the cost of all my supplies for the class, on top of the materials fee that covered the chemicals and stuff.
Until then, I’ll be happy getting the negatives developed and the prints on a CD and holding onto them so one day I can make prints all on my own.
There are few things better than a warm winter day in PB, by the way. Right before I took this shot, a group of fisherman next to me on the pier were crowded around this fish one of them had caught. It was crazy looking, with blotchy orange coloring and spikes and weird fins. I thought about asking someone what kind of fish it was, and someone walked by and said “Oh look, someone got a sculpin.” And I thought duh, it looks exactly like the fish on the Ballast Point labels.
These photos were taken on Kodak film, 400TX for the black & white and 200 for the color. I had the prints put on CD and edited these in Photoshop only using basic techniques I’d use the darkroom (crop, adjust exposure and contrast, burn, dodge).