In Development: Adventures in Film, Volume Four

By my fourth roll of film, I felt like I had the hang of my camera. I was just about ready to send my film off to be developed, but I wanted to shoot an unexpired roll of Ilford HP5+ so that I could compare the results of the unexpired film to the results of the expired film that I shot in volume two. At this point, I had no idea how safe it was to shoot my expired film, so this comparison was valuable. So I decided to shoot this roll of HP5+ and then send my first four rolls off to the lab to see if I had managed to extract any decent shots or if I had taken 40 miserably under- or over-exposed shots.

I was carrying my Mamiya with me pretty much everywhere I went at this point, so I was thinking and seeing very “photographically” during this time. I’ve talked about this concept several times before on this blog — most recently in my latest photo of the week post — because it’s a concept that never ceases to amaze me. Part of what I love about photography is that it can show people parts of the world that are beautiful that they didn’t even notice until they saw the photograph. It’s like a little glimpse into a magical world that’s surprisingly totally accessible. I’ve found that thinking/seeing photographically produces the same profound effect for me. If I’m wandering our world looking for images, I find myself being so much more in tune with my surroundings than I would otherwise. I’m not sure if this translates to better images (I still feel self-conscious about my images and probably always will), but it throws me into a meditative state that is…wonderful.

By nature, I’m a pretty impatient person. Unsupervised, my mind has a tendency to think about the next five steps instead of the step I’m currently taking. I’m a hyper-active planner. I take stairs two at a time. This can be helpful with certain types of photography, such as shooting landscapes (a planning mindset helps dramatically when you need to think ahead to know exactly at what angle the Milky Way will rise over the mountains or whether the right type of clouds will cover the sky when the sun rises to produce dramatic colors).

But this mindset is generally counter-productive when it comes to photography. In order to make a good image, you typically need to immerse yourself in the moment. If your aim is to teach your audience something about their world, you need to be very in tune with the moment and the technicals of your camera. This requires a profound presence. By any objective measure, I still suck at achieving this profound presence and making good images…but the act of practicing has been very powerful. Sometimes I catch myself sprinting up the stairs and pause…for no other reason than to stand and enjoy the moment.

All photos were shot on a Mamiya 7 II with the 80mm (39mm equivalent) lens on Ilford HP5+ 400 shot at ISO 400. They were developed and scanned by, and they were processed very minimally in Lightroom (mostly cleaning up dust spots and tweaking contrast). Enjoy!

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