This is a post I’ve had queued up for ages but haven’t posted. Imagine you’re reading this a few months ago:
I’ve been a busy guy lately. A man with a plan. A man in demand. International man of mystery. Etc.
Okay, not quite, but it seems like our group of friends from school days have been seeing more of each other lately than we do usually. Similar to the old mantra of waiting for a bus for ages and then ten come along at once probably. There have been engagements, flat warmings, birthdays, and all sorts of things going on.
This is good for me, as I get to take more pictures. I spend a lot of my time trying to work out when I’ll next get a chance to take photos of people… which generally requires being around people more often. Difficult when you’re both a bit anti-social, and also tied to your computer to finish off your dissertation.
After countless years of having cameras stuck in their faces, my pals are pretty used to it – so I don’t need to worry too much about being a pain in the arse – another fear that comes from being ‘that guy’ with a camera at parties.
I’ve been shooting some more film as of late, and trying out the relatively recent lens purchase – the Canon 50mm f0.95 – in low light on 35mm. The Leica M6 in particular is wonderful, and I’m trying to use it as much as I can. I spooled out the remainder of my bulk stock of Fuji Neopan 1600 the other week, and I have about 15 rolls left now. Just 15 rolls of what has got to be the finest film ever made. It was a black day when it was discontinued, and an even blacker day when I accidentally spoiled about 20 rolls by opening up a sealed container not knowing what was inside. I beat myself up about it constantly.
There are a number of factors that make hitting the sweet spot with the 50mm f0.95 lens on these occasions pretty tough. Aside from the obviously ridiculous depth of field, there’s the fact that it’s film, so there’s no immediate feedback to see whether or not you’re doing things correctly or not… and generally a whole lot of inebriates have been consumed prior to the shots being taken. My eyesight is bad enough without having to compete with all of that, so things don’t always come out in a prize winning fashion.
They can still be nice for what they are though.
I’m convinced that my pals purposefully set up their houses with lights in such a way to frustrate me. People think I’m insane, but I’m pretty particular about light… and not just for photographic purposes. I’m convinced it’s something to do with how terrible my eyesight is.
I’ve been reading a whole host of things lately about how expensive digital cameras are a waste of money due to the depreciation, and how an expensive film camera will last for decades… which has left me feeling a bit despondent, as I’ve just bought a new Leica M digital rangefinder. Fact is, there is some truth to it… film cameras are timeless, don’t need to be replaced every few years, and are far more of a pleasure to use than digital equivalents. However, it’s a massive over-simplification of something far more nuanced, and I know it is.
Part of the fun of photography is exploring different ways of doing things, and working out what you enjoy most… but also which gets the best kind of output. Film is great in lots of situations, and I love it dearly. The cameras are far, far more satisfying for a start… and the results where there is a bit of light available are awesome. That said, for tricky low light situations where you’re not sure whether something will come out looking worthwhile, or just mediocre, a good digital camera is a better option. Save that pricey and precious film for times where it can really shine.
Especially the case for Fuji Superia 1600, which is gorgeous in certain situations – like in the bright lights of a city at night – but not so great in dark flats with one temperature of light.
So sometimes you just need to de-saturate it…
but not all the time…
There’s a place for both film and digital to exist harmoniously in this world.