So…I totally did a thing.
To be more precise, I rented out a manual camera (a Pentax K1000 for those that are interested) and I learned how to use it (sort of ).
My aim was to have two photos, one set up and one observed, that translated an example of a figure’s relationship with their environment. Now I know in the world of le blog it’s a little unheard of, but I do have very limited experience with cameras. Yeah I have one, and I can take and image and shove it up on the computer screen (then subsequently Photoshop THE SHIT out of it), but in terms of really understanding how to use a camera like a tool, I’m about as experienced as a spoon. And at least a spoon has the excuse of not having any hands.
So hopefully you won’t judge me too harshly when I say that it was a pretty new experience for me. And I honestly was taken a little aback by the difference between a digital and manual photography. As you would expect, I found myself planning every tiny detail to such a high degree, and paying so much more attention to the composition of each image. I really found myself engaging in the creating of an image, much more so than I ever have before with a camera and it completely changed my view of using photography as an art form.
In short, I learned that to take good photos, you have to think about it. Go Figure.
Then, of course, you have the following process of converting your 35mm film into negatives and creating your contact sheet, judging exposure times, filter strengths, exposing, checking, adjusting, checking again, dodging, burning and all the other laborious steps that go into creating an authentic, manual camera experience.
It was long, it was dark and it was, at times, quite repetitive. But I’m really fond of my resulting images. They are mine: from beginning to end and for the first time, I could look on at a set of photographs in the same way I look at a drawing, painting or print.
That’s not to say I ever doubted that photography was an art form. It’s just that I had never engaged with it in the same way I have with other forms of image making. I’m very far from being a good, or even half way decent photographer, but I think it’s a really good start.
Like I find with a lot of things, I really did have to understand the bare bones before I could truly appreciate the process.
So is this the way forward for me? Hell no. It was long. REALLY long. I’m well and truly sticking with my digital for the most part, but I feel like I’ve gained a new-found respect for the little guy, and anyone who knows how to use him.
Well done Uni. You taught me a thing.
And hopefully that comes across in the resulting photographs.
Like with anything, the screen can never quite get across the subtleties of the image, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that they are actually quite nice. Promise.