Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Lost World

This is the Anza Borrego Desert in California; one of my favourite places to blog about as you know. If you don't, you haven't been paying attention.

Put it on your list of places you must see before you die. I’ve been through it about a half dozen times now and intend to go back again every chance I get. 

It’s the kind of place that reminds you how truly insignificant man is, and how thankful we should be to Mother Nature.

Every shot counted on this road trip in 2004. I had just two rolls of film left: 48 frames, or 50, if you add the sneaky last shot you could usually get in at the end of a roll before the satisfying click-zzzz sound of the film rewinding. So every shot had to be a keeper.

Digital photography has made us lazy. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. We can bang off thousands of shots and sift through the chaff to keep the best dozen or so; we can see what we shoot seconds after we take it and make many adjustments until we get it right, then take a perfect shot. Or not make adjustments, and fix it in Photoshop. Personally I find it takes less time to get a shot right in camera than have to mess with it later.

Film? You had to know what the hell you were doing first by reading the light, then making the adjustments in your head, knowing the controls on your camera blindfolded and having confidence in your ability to make every shot a winner. 

Subjects were planned, considered and their worthiness measured before any film was loaded or shutters opened. Every type of film had a different colour balance; you needed to decide before time what kind of 'look' you wanted in your images and the speed of your film so you could choose the right ISO. 

If you wanted to change these things you needed to add filters to your lenses and change the development time for the film. Lots of messing about. Then you needed patience to wait for the fresh Christmas that was each roll that ‘came back’ from the lab, every exposure a new gift. Every exposure cost money.

Don't get me wrong - digital photography has opened up worlds no one ever thought possible and I'm grateful for that, but that is not what this blog is about. Something has been lost in the essence of capturing the image itself and the reasons behind it. We've lost something real in the push to edit, texturise, colourise, photoshop and instagram everything. A lot of the time I just want to look at an image and see only what the photographer saw when they pressed the shutter.

I believe that learning to shoot on film has given me a respect for the craft simply not available with digital. In this blog I've gone unplugged, if you like, to show you something from a world before digital. These shots are, in order, one complete roll of film from that day in 2004. I've loaded them as shot without any adjustments whatever, so you can be there with me and see this small part of the world as I saw it that day.

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