Lomography: in an Instant

Scanned with an Epson Perfection V550

Lomography – love it or hate it, a true lomography image has a very distinct look. Despite being an old-f@rt I love the look of these lo-fi images and have indeed owned a couple of film Holgas for quite some time now. Imagine my delight therefore whilst exploring the world of instant photography for the Instant August project to discover a Lomography instant camera. Even better it was half-price in a flash sale on their website. Just as well because the full retail price is ridiculously expensive for what is in fact a cheap plastic box with an extremely basic, need I say cheap, plastic lens. It’s the one thing that spoils Lomography as a company for me – they price their cameras way too high and whilst the prime target market may well be affluent enough to afford them I for one could not justify that sort of expense. Even at half-price it was pushing things (even so, I told my wife it was half again of what I actually paid!).

Lomography film on the other hand is well priced but this may be because there is a lot more competition in the film emulsion market than there currently is in the production and sale of plastic cameras. I like to be even handed in my criticisms.

Three for the price of one – Halifax Piece Hall

One of the things I enjoy about instant photography is the (almost) immediate gratification. Now, it could reasonably be argued that digital photography actually does give truly INSTANT gratification as you can see the image on the LCD screen immediately after pressing the button. However, in my world the final product is a physical print, regardless as to whether it starts life on a piece of plastic or as a series of 0s and 1s is irrelevant to me; the ultimate aim of every image I make is to print it. Now, don’t misunderstand me I do not print every digital image I make, think of the time required if nothing else, but I am always aiming for an image worthy of printing and ultimately hanging on my wall. Instant photography therefore, whilst a side-line in my photographic interests, appeals to me because the objective EVERY time is a print.

Lomo’ Instant – Piece Hall, Halifax 12/9/2019

What the Lomo’ Instant does is offer me the best of two of my niche interests – lomography and instant photography. I shoot images every day, without exception, but I don’t shoot film, instant film or create images in a lomographically-inspired vein every day. The vast majority of my 365 images for example are straight-forward digital images. Year to date 71% of my 365 images have been made with a Fuji camera for example with only 9% coming from the iPhone and a mere 2% from my instant camera collection, none of which were made with the recently acquired Lomo’ Instant.

Piece Hall – a Grade I listed building

I couldn’t tell you exactly why it is for me that lo-fi photographs appeal so much. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the homogeneity of so many technically excellent yet sterile and soulless images that bombard us constantly these days. Or is it the fact that they are deliberately different thus appealing to the inner rebel? The “Perfectly Imperfect” tag sums it up for me quite nicely. These are not perfect images but flawed and therefore somewhat more human as a result – is that what gives them “soul”? Or are they actually just junk and I’m deluding myself?

The only image here not scanned on my Epson, this was copied with my phone

Before you start shouting hypocrite at me I do know that it is the wonders of digital technology that enable me to share my photographs, instant or otherwise, with a wider audience than the people in my company at any time. The fact is that even if I were not sharing my images online I’d still be making instant prints, I’d still be printing from both film and digital cameras and I’d still be framing prints and hanging them on the walls of my house. The digital sharing is a bonus and a welcome one at that – I’m neither a hypocrite nor a Luddite!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first outing with the Lomo’ Instant and you can bet it will be going out with me again very soon.

9 in 45: reflections

When I posted my first 9 in 45 series I chose not to ponder on the experience but to leave it a few days. With the benefit of those few days I’m now ready to jot down some observations.

The linear route for
9/45 #1

1 The first stop was at the top of Salterhebble Hill. A view I’ve seen countless times on foot, from the car and from the top deck of the 503 bus. Yet until the timer stopped me at this point its one I’ve never thought to photograph, and yet it makes a nice image.

2 Stop 2 came a few yards too early for the image I’d usually shoot from this stretch of the canal. With a fixed 23mm lens there was no “cheating” so I was forced to work with what I had. It was the only time on the walk I wished I was working in colour.

3 Spoilt for choice at this spot however in the end the final composition was dictated by the very bright sunlight. I used the overhanging branches to shield the lens and effectively shot into the light here.

4 A simple composition, I love converging lines.

5 One of my favourites from the walk and surprisingly not a composition I’ve shot before. I usually stop five paces further on underneath the bridge and work with the shapes and reflections.

6 This one needed little thought and in fact I’d hoped I wouldn’t find myself stopping at Woodside Mills, somewhere I can rarely resist snapping. I tried to make something a little different from the norm therefore by focusing my attention on the water rather than the brickwork.

7 If I could strike this from the series I would.

8 I’ve had this in mind for a while, but with a view to shooting it with the Holga 120-Pan film camera. I did in fact return the following afternoon and shoot this with the plastic-fantastic toy camera and am looking forward to the comparison.

9 The observant will notice how close this is to image number 8. In fact just the other side of the bridge. A call came through on my mobile phone which I needed to take and I was stood here when the timer went off for image 9. Rather than miss the timings I shot this with the phone clamped between shoulder and ear. An example of total familiarity with the camera being an asset – especially as I decided on a very shallow depth of field and also the diagonal light and shade composition.

Images 1, 4, 5 and 9 are my favourites from the challenge. In fact the only image that I do not like at all is number 7; if I’d been walking slightly faster I’d have had a fascinating old factory building in sight rather than a line of parked cars! Thinking it over now I might have gone for a view down the line of parked cars and tried to do something with converging lines perhaps.

Overall, I enjoyed the discipline that the Challenge imposed. With hindsight I would not have chosen such an oft-trod route, especially for my first go, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. For my next attempt I will chose somewhere less well known. Accepting Mr C’s further challenge I will also shoot in colour, out of my comfort zone, but to ensure I comply I’ll shoot JPEGs which can be posted as-shot.

If you’ve not tried the Challenge then I urge you to give it a go!

Skye 2015

Canon AE1 Kodak 400TX

As its Friday I’ve dusted off the scanner ready to make my first “Film Friday” post. I did shoot a roll of 35mm film yesterday but as I’m going to be sending films off for developing for a while I’ve nothing from yesterday that I can scan. So I’ve dug out my old negative folder and am looking for something suitable for my first official Film Friday offering.

In the meantime here’s a few 35mm black & white negatives I scanned all taken with a Canon AE1 on Kodak 400TX (the replacement for Tri-X I believe) on Skye in 2015 (click an image to make it bigger).

Film Friday

Alliteration is an “in” thing it appears, Throwback Thursday was the one that caught my eye recently along with Flashback Friday. I have to admit to being partial to a bit of alliteration especially in image titles. But as always I’m digressing before I start.

The aliteratively-challenged Instant August was a very successful project in my mind and if it weren’t for the inherent cost of doing so I’d have continued the project into September. It did however reawaken the long suppressed itch to get the film cameras out of their box. I have a Mamiya C3 twin lens reflex camera that I’ve never used; a birthday present last year that came with a jammed shutter so hasn’t yet seen a roll of film.  I can’t even remember if I resolved the issue or not.  There’s also a Mamiya RB67 and a Hasselblad gathering dust in the cupboard. In a box underneath are a dozen assorted SLRs of various vintages and brands some with lenses others not. 

Birch Trees (1)
Birch trees …Hasselblad 500C/M FP4+ Home developed and printed

So, totally ignoring the cost implications, I ordered six rolls of 35mm black and white film and five rolls of 120 film.  All black and white and none of them my usual Ilford or Kodak emulsions. Adox Scala, Redscale, Kosmo and a few different Foma emulsions are all on order and will shortly be sat next to my medication on the middle shelf of the fridge. I’ve a tin full of out of date film to play with too but wanted some fresh film initially. With developing costs it might have been cheaper to stick with “Snappy September” (I needed a thesaurus to come up with snappy for instant!).

The plan, insofar as it is a plan, is to post one shot taken on film each Friday until the end of the year, so that’s 17 posts for Film Friday 2019. The first few posts are likely to be images from the archive but the aim is that those from October onwards will be new images. 

© Dave Whenham
The shot here does have a certain atmosphere or charm I guess – Holga 120 PAN.

All of which leads me to think about where my photography is heading at the moment. A move from landscapes to urban subjects, a tendency to focus my lens on the more mundane aspects around me, instant photography and Instant August , Hipstamatic and Distressed FX on my iPhone and now plans for Film Friday.

One of the blogs I follow regularly is Postcard Cafe, proprietor Mr C.  He recently commented on one of my posts that:

“… with photography I feel like I’m on a constant learning curve to improving my eye, skills, images and enjoyment.  I cannot see a point where I stop learning from my photography.”

Mr C … Postcard Cafe

That resonates with me. Add to that a naturally restless nature and a tendency to get sidetracked very easily and my photographic meanderings in 2019 look normal. I find that recently I’ve been very drawn to more “mundane” scenes with a more graphical quality both in colour and black & white. Not sure if it’s a sign of tastes evolving/changing or whether it’s a natural reaction to the 365 Challenge where I have to rely on what’s around me for my daily image. That the single stand-alone landscape images that I have in the past always been drawn to are less achievable for many reasons is one reason I guess. 

I also think that the discipline of a daily image is slowly retraining the eye to look beyond the obvious. When I accepted the 365 Challenge I also set myself the added criteria that I needed to be proud of the image hence no snaps of my tea or other social-media staples. It’s a source of great satisfaction that I’ve achieved this aim.

So, whether or not we could have predicted Film Friday at the start of 365-2019 is debatable. I do think however that it’s genesis is possible to predict with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight!