Serenity Maui, Hawaii 2004
For those of you who don’t shoot film, have never seen a slide transparency on the lightbox, and think of a photograph as a file in the computer’s hard drive, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Don’t get me wrong, I love much of what the digi present and future offers, but there is, without question, something much more satisfying in capturing a great photograph on a piece of film that you can touch and hold and place down on the light table and view the light coming through.
Like most photographers, I started shooting with 35mm color negatives. I didn’t know any better. That changed when I saw a slide show in Kathmandu in 2001 that brought me to tears. It was then that I began to shoot positive slide film.
But it was the move from 35mm to the much larger (over 12 times larger!) 6x17cm format when I became truly hooked! Sure the images were much more difficult to capture…completely and totally different from 35mm. Exposing a big piece of film is a whole new craft and the learning curve was steep at the beginning. The amount of wasted film, time and money spent creating underexposed and unusable film was disheartening, and only concerted determination and perseverance got me through those times.
And when, perhaps I thought I’d never be able to create a great photograph with this big film and it’s wide 3-to-1 ratio format of space to fill, I created this image – Serenity. Initially, I named it Serenity because of the feel that it gives the viewer, but looking back, the making of this image brought me a serenity in finally having created one successful image. It’s like that one shot amongst many in a round of golf that gets you to come back and play again. You can forget the 104 horrible-to-mediocre shots that you hit everywhere but where you intended because you had that one shot. That one shot that felt great where you hit the “sweet spot” and it was effortless. Clouds part, angels sing.
Now, I had that shot. I had that one that would bring me out again, that would allow me to overlook all the bad ones that I had made. And unlike a shot in golf that is just a memory, or a digi file in your computer that’s foundation is invisible, this shot is one that I can hold and touch and look at…and how it shines when the light comes through it! Serenity.
The season of shorter days are here. Sunset is at 6:25pm tonight and in a month, daylight savings time will be over and the sun will be setting before 5pm! Grrr. My day job keeps me in the Bartram Gallery and I don’t get outside much before 6 or 7, so I miss the light this time of year. Generally, I might be a bit more bummed about the months of darkness ahead, but soon I’ll have a new friend coming in the mail that shoots at crazy high ISO’s like 1600 and 3200 and beyond! If you understand these numbers, you know where I’m going here, and if you don’t…let’s just say that I’ll soon be able to shoot, not in available light, but in available darkness!
One of the new and exciting technological advances that they have made in the world of cameras is this ability to record images with super-high ISO’s. In the past, 3200 speed film was about as fast as you’d find, but unless you were looking for an extremely grainy look, you wouldn’t be too thrilled with the results. The new ’08 digital SLR’s are able to capture a clean and sharp image at 3200 and you don’t seem crazy to contemplate shooting at 6400. Wow! This is allowing for a whole new way of viewing the world photographically and capturing images. So, although shorter days are just around the corner, I’ll still be out shooting, training my eye to see light a bit differently in the longer nights of winter.