Monochrome

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Mention the words ‘still life’ to most, me included, and the first thought that comes to mind is the Renaissance masters, the Dutch school, Veritas and the classical, sidelit, muted tones of those wonderful 16th century masterpieces. Today the likes of Sergei Sogokon can reproduce those with cameras and lights, and for a while I tried to do the same with long exposures and painting with flashlights. I might well go back to that at some point, but today I decided to produce something simpler, something more immediate and which required less setup. It’s surprising what you can do with stuff that’s just lying around at home, and as evidence, I give you a hacksaw, an awl, a wrench and a paintbrush! Not the most inspiring of objects I admit, but I think that it just goes to show that given the right incentive, you can make a shot out of anything. This is something that I’d had in mind for a while and I could see these as prints on a workroom wall.

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I don’t know why I would go back to shooting film again. A couple of months ago I found my old F60 and it still had a roll of film in it, only half-shot. I wondered, this last decade of shooting digital, of learning how to shoot, had it actually made me a better photographer? Remembering the years that I shot only film, because there was no alternative, I also remembered the anticipation of waiting for films to come back from Boots the Chemist or wherever else I had sent them. That anticipation often didn’t measure up to the final product, sometimes I had blurred the shot, or shooting with flash I had never understood the concept of sync speed, leading to a portion of the shot being blacked out by the moving shutter. Had I actually improved as a photographer? Well, at least I now understand sync speed and can recognise the problem for what it was, so maybe the rest of my ‘skills’ have also improved.

The F60 is a pretty lousy camera by comparison with some of the others out there, and you can pick up a great film camera for very little money these days. When I knew the bug was back I quickly bought a F90x (N90s in the US) and a Nikon FE for next to nothing. Poles apart, but both in great condition and fully functional. It took me a while to stop looking down at the back of the camera after each shot (seriously!), but I realised that I do understand f-stops, and ISO, and exposure in general and I think this will be more than just a passing fancy.

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