Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Slow down

Well, it's been a couple of weeks again, but it's been a busy couple of weeks. As usual, I've been out making images but haven't had time to do much except the normal stuff for the J.O.B.

These images were again captured made at a local flea market, the Nacogdoches Trade Days, which occurs monthly here in town. Can't really call it "captured," because that connotes more of an association with digital, for me at least. And these images all come from my Russian FED-3, shot on Fujicolor 200 film.

 As I've probably said before (I think), I'm not a photographer who just routinely gravitates toward bright colors. Though, sometimes, I can be a little bit like a crow with a shiny object or a dog in the park.


In other words, sometimes I can get easily distracted. But, in general, I'm more interested in black and white photography, because it's pure light and shadow, form and contrast.

That's not to say those attributes are not, or can not, be present in color photography. And there is something to be said about pretty colors.


Sorry, got distracted again. What was I saying?

That brings us to our first image: The brightly colored brooms I found in one of the vendor booths at Trade Days. To say they just grabbed my eye would be an understatement. I caught sight of them from several booths away and immediately started planning an image.

I just liked the bright colors and the random nature of the arrangement. (I also really enjoyed the funny look I got from the vendor as I was photographing his brooms. Oh, well. Easily amused, I guess. Me, not him.)

This image is of another vendor booth. Here, we don't have the bright colors which attracted my attention in the first image. But there are some great personalities, some interesting faces, in this image. And, believe me, I'm all about interesting faces.

That's essentially why I've started this semi-project, wandering around the local flea markets, introducing myself to people who catch my attention and photographing them.

People interest me. I think that's a big part of why I became a photojournalist in the first place. My favorite part of this job is meeting people, getting to know (hopefully) a little bit about them and making their photo. The fact these images were made with an approximately 50-year-old camera built in the former Soviet Union is just an added plus. In some ways, it's a real conversation starter.

Could these same images be made with a digital camera? Of course they could. And probably a lot easier, too. Small digital cameras are almost ubiquitous today, particularly with the advent of better and better camera functions in smart phones. Several companies, I won't name names, are developing and promoting their camera phones almost as alternatives to "traditional" digital cameras.

Not going to debate the merits (or lack there-of) of the increase of camera phones around the world. A lot of you probably wouldn't like what I'd say.

As I said, these images obviously could be made with a digital camera. So why film? It's more than a little bit of a hassle, loading a camera, being limited by the number of exposures on a roll of film (24, in this case), getting the film developed or doing it myself (in the case of my beloved black-and-white. And there's always the cost to consider.

But it's exactly those limits, those expenses, and those challenges which are making traditional analog photography interesting to me again. I was talking to a friend of mine Tuesday after photographing him for the newspaper. I told him I really don't miss the hour or two a day, every day, in the darkroom, developing film and printing images for whatever newspaper I was working at, at the time.

He observed that, whenever we "have" to do something — in this case, darkroom work — it can cease to be fun. But, now that I'm choosing to shoot film and put in the time in the darkroom, the fun is coming back.

And it's reflecting in the digital work I'm doing for the newspaper. The limitations of film, particularly the expense and the number of exposures on a roll, force me to consider each image I'm making. I don't think I'm alone among photographers who sometimes take almost a machine-gun approach to photography, particularly in the field of sports photography. When a camera, such as the one I'm using, can capture 10 or more images per second, there's a very real temptation to just hold the button down and sort out the good images later.

I do find myself doing that. And I hope, by using older film cameras without motor drives, I'm breaking myself of that habit. Because, even at 5 frames per second, a 24-exposure roll of film can be gone in about 5 second, which quickly gets very expensive. But, stepping back, shooting one frame at a time, actually looking at what I'm shooting, I think, is already making me more deliberate and, hopefully, helping me become a better photographer.


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