I’m getting back into film photography. I find that film has a certain depth and personality that digital files do not. I’m also learning to develop black and white film in my kitchen. It’s not as hard as you might imagine. Last month, I met up with a few gentlemen who were kind enough to allow me to shoot with them up in New Paltz, NY. I wanted to try out the 4×5 format again. I’d had a 4×5 back in the 1990s but never completely understood how to use the camera, so I sold it. My interests have taken me back to large format, but one thing is different now: the internet. Yep, the ‘net is helping me learn LF photography. Message boards such as this one are a tremendous resource, rich with information and other people’s experiences. Access to experience is what I did not have in the ’90s.
I hooked up with a board member who offered to let me use his 4×5 for the morning, sort of a test drive to help me decide whether to buy one for myself. The picture above was not made with that camera. I made one like it, but at the present time I don’t have a method to scan the negative to share it. Truthfully, most of my images that day were crappy, pretty poorly focused and improperly exposed because I had forgotten to adjust the ISO on my meter. Live and learn. This image was made with a Nikon DSLR. Anyone could have made it. There are dozens just like it on Flickr and other photo sites, so I decided to play with it…to interpret it. I started manipulating it in Photoshop with the intent of sepia toning it. I’ve never used the sepia tone controls and it shows. I screwed it up. But the resulting screw-up is an interesting interpretation of what I saw that day. In a way, it’s the exact opposite of what I originally captured in pixels as you can see from the original which follows.
You may prefer the original. I’ve often thought of myself as someone who captures reality with a camera, so I tend to prefer the original. But I also like the screw-up. It has forced me, if you will, to look at the scene and creative process from a different perspective, one of creating “art” instead of just capturing what is in front of me when I raise the camera to my eye. I’d encourage you to try the same. Try out the filters and effects in your editing software. Try screwing up a picture and see if you are pleased with the result. Sometimes screw ups open our minds.