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Fuck it, I bought a new old film camera.

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Perhaps reflective of my 50 years stumbling about this planet, I tend to lean towards all things mechanical ahead of the dark technological arts. To the degree that I have long questioned the intended purpose of digital cameras. When, in many circumstances, the quality of medium-format film remains far superior. Digital files, as immediate as they are, deliver an inherently plastic quality that fails to replicate the texture, depth or romance of Mr Kodak's finest.

Furthermore, working with a film camera requires a different mindset and a more thorough understanding of the basic principles of photography. This mindset is rarely unearthed, partially buried, down the rabbit hole of a camera's menu.

With film cameras, a do-not-fuck-this-up mentality must be applied. There is no preview button and no insurance beyond one's confidence in their own capabilities and understanding of their tools. For these reasons, I will forever appreciate having learned my craft in a darkroom through the antiquated early 90s. Many of my fashion choices from the same era can rest somewhat uncomfortably in the past.

While all forms of creativity should forever remain subjective, it is my absolute belief that professional photographers should always - or almost always - get it right 'in camera'. Software should be used sparingly to enhance an image and not be the lifeline that brings files back from the murky depths of JPEG hell. I am astounded by the number of image makers across social media platforms who boast about the capability of the software used to recover the images they have severely butchered.

If you are making these mistakes, my best advice: for fuck's sake, buy a roll of film! Even if the action comes at the expense of having to jostle with a slender hipster for a Pentax K1000 at a Saturday afternoon, Brunswick West garage sale - show no mercy as he/she/they have probably already laid claim to half of your grandfather's wardrobe.

There is no better investment in understanding photography than working with film and learning to appreciate the relationship between the shutter and aperture. Light burns emulsion, kids. It really is that simple.

Artists, makers and creators should be appreciated for the uniqueness of their aesthetics and ability to interpret subjects via their chosen medium. This is not to say that I do not have a strong appreciation of client deadlines - there are circumstances when delivery (and digital) trumps all. But with that said, with good communication and planning comes the luxury of time. And what price for the best possible creative output? In this circumstance, about $20.60 plus processing for a roll of Kodak Portra 120.

Taking a page out of my own book, my most recent eBay camera purchase is a Fuji GW680 III all the way from Japan which returns just nine frames from a roll of 120 film. Yes, just nine frames. As mentioned earlier, a do-not-fuck-this-up mentality must be applied.

Below, the first nine frames. A somewhat random mash of images featuring Percy (the Porsche) and form/colour within the urban landscape.

My takeaway from the first roll of film loaded into a camera in the past five years, I dig the 6x8 format but still have many, many lessons to learn.

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