Adventures in Film: Canada

You know if you’re going to travel to Nova Scotia in Fall the trees will be spectacularly colourful. So when I went over a couple of weekends ago for the wedding of a couple of friends, I chose to take black and white film.

Let’s be honest, if you want to see great pictures of anything, anywhere, taken at any time of year, you may as well look online. I chose to take my old film camera and some rolls of black and white film so that I would avoid clichés like the plague (nice cliché).

For the most part I took pictures of the friends there, and some new friends I made, but the shot I wanted to share this week is of Cape Split, the very tip of a spit of land which when viewed on a map resembles the swept-back ears of a racing hare. From this point you can look across the Bay of Fundy and at certain times of day you’ll see the colliding tide swirling around the isolated rocks which jut up from the sea off the end of the spit.

My photo can’t compete with an Ansel Adams masterpiece, but the use of grainy, black and white film on such a dramatic, craggy subject adds I think a certain extra texture to what could have been just another tourist shot.

My adventures in film will continue, but as a side-project to my main work. I’m finding it invigorating and exciting to recall old techniques and try new tricks and tweaks and I’m sure it’s refreshing how I approach my corporate work too, but I’ll probably be keeping it under wraps a bit more until it evolves into something more like a coherent body of work.

Black and white view of Cape Split, Nova Scotia, Canada looking over the Bay of Fundy.

Cape Split, Nova Scotia, Canada

First Film Results!

Last week I told you about my new adventures in black and white film photography, well here’s a selection of the results. I need to work on my digitisation process a bit more because of course this is all still a bit trial and error.

I’ve owned a scanner in the past, but the results were never more than “ok” in spite of it being quite a high-end Nikon machine, so I’m using a digital camera and a copy box which I constructed myself.

As much as possible I want to preserve the beauty of the negatives (and they are quite lovely) and while this might only be truly possible by making direct prints from them, that’s not so practical when it comes to showing them on my blog.

But away with all this technical talk, what about the subjects of the photos?

There’s the shopfitter in Bath who didn’t mind me taking a few frames while he was on his cigarette break, but wasn’t going to pose. That’s ok, I just wanted an interesting face and some half-decent light for my test photos. He was the perfect candidate.

Then, back in Frome, I met Bad Rasta who travels the country selling balloons and novelty toys at carnivals. He was on a break before the start of the evening carnival in the town and was great fun to chat to and was very happy to pose for me with his van and balloons.

Finally Geoff, a Frome local who I met while wandering around the funfair in Frome. Full of interesting reminiscences, a face full of character, and a pig skin jacket that belonged to his father.

There are more photos of course, but some were just tests to check the camera metering and to see how the Kodak Tri-X film would handle different lighting situations. I wanted to make sure I had a few engaging portraits to share.

Of course the question has to be is this worth all the effort and expense? And of course the answer is yes. Ok, I could have taken these photos digitally with better technical quality for web, but these negatives would print beautifully well, and even if I never get the pleasure of doing that, it does give me satisfaction.

There is also the fact that knowing how to do this improves my work as a digital photographer. I’ve always firmly believed that having a background in processing and printing my own film work back when I started has always been a big advantage over photographers who didn’t get that grounding. So to continue it now is helping me keep in touch with the basics.

And besides all that, getting out and about to discover personal stories and just talking to people I wouldn’t otherwise get to photograph makes the whole exercise utterly, utterly worth it.