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Providing Portrait, Event and Architectural photography to the New England Region, and the world, Patrick Reading, Photography brings vision and expertise from diverse design and artistic mediums to provide you with a truly unique photographic experience. Please browse our galleries, and contact us if you want to know more. We look forward to working with you on your next artistic endeavor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Going Analog

This thing is older than I am!
In this digital age, photography has entered a new era. With a swipe of the finger, you can take a picture, make it look like an old photograph, and post it online for the world to see! You never have to load film, you're never limited by the number of frames on a roll. There's no waiting around for the film to be developed and you never have to hold a print. 

But there's something missing. Your camera makes all the decisions for you - exposure, color balance, aperture. Some programmer has made your choices on how the image will look, blotches, edges, tone and focus, all take care of for you. There's no room for surprise, no chance encounters, no permanent record. Each image can be copied infinite times with no original to compare the results with. Its boring, its planned, and its executed with computerized precision. Gone are the days when a magic man with a box captured the world on temperamental elements with unpredictable results  and held in his hands the fruit of his labors.  Gone are the days of glass plates, tin type, film and papers. Kodak is dead. Polaroid is dead. Long live digital.

Except when its not. 

I grew up with 35 mm film: funny curly strips of plastic that cost more to get prints from than the camera cost to take them. I grew up in a time when the time from shutter to print could be measured in weeks, not milliseconds, where you'd find a roll of film and wonder what year you took those pictures, only to be surprised when you got them back from the lab. And if you were impatient, and wanted instant gratification, you only had one option. Polaroid. Those big bulky cameras that spat out funny square shaped plastic prints and magically developed the image in front of your face over the course of a minute, often accompanied with lots of shaking.Sharing was with the friends who were around you, laughing at how fuzzy the picture was, how silly we looked, but still amazed that what we held was taken just moments ago. 

Although I shoot digital now, and admire all its qualities, there's a tactile creativity that's missing, and i wanted to get back to my roots in film. Of course, i've got no time or patience for the lab (if i could find one) or the darkroom, so the natural choice was the original instant film, the packfilm and the polaroid camera. Polaroid, as a company died years ago, its dismemberd corpse scattered to the winds, but professional pack-film was still being made by Fuji that fit the old polaroid models, so with the magic of Ebay i acquired myself a Polaroid 330 camera and a couple packs of fuji FP-3000B black and white film.
My first shot!
Why Fuji packfilm. you ask? Well, one, its a professional grade film. Those plastic squares you remember as polaroid, and that are faithfully faked by your phone camera are no longer made, except as an experiment by a group of diehard fanatics in the Netherlands. 8 shots of those will set you back a pretty penny, and results were nowhere near guaranteed. neither is permanence.

The other factor in choosing pack-film is the negative. That's right, a negative. That funny original print that looks bizarre  and makes the final print, a foreign concept to today's youth who've never known a photo that wasn't birthed by a computer chip.
My First negative!
Fuji negatives hearken back to the wilderness of photography, where environment, temperature, light and contaminants created random results. Scanned and inverted on the computer, they give surprising, random, and sometime ethereal results, never to be duplicated by a hipster digital app. Edges, solarization, fingerprints, and phantoms develop in ways you can never expect. 
Solarization - where positive becomes negative.. or is that negative becomes positive?
Even the positive is an exploration. With limited shots in each print, every shot counts. No more spray-n-click hoping to get just the right shot! Every shot is an experiment, looking for the right focus, the right exposure and the right composition, frustrated by the imprecise nature of the camera.
Ooops! A little dark (nothing Photoshop cant fix!)
But as I get the feel for the equipment, learn the temperament of the film, and play with the images in photoshop, some pretty impressive results can happen
With even more interesting negatives:
Note the "goop" at the bottom! precious, unpredictable "goop"
I look forward to more chances at playing around, and experiments in color, transfers and more in the future.!

Yay for double exposures!

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