* Forgive the wordy post, but the title does say “something different” *
For those who don’t know me, I have a confession: I tend to be a creature of habit. If I know I like a certain food, or that one method works, or that this outfit is flattering, I tend to stick to it. While there’s nothing seriously wrong with that, it can make for a rather boring life. Lately, I’ve felt the need to break out of my routine a bit: try new restaurants & dishes, explore new (to me) fashions, look for a new job (wasn’t exactly my choice, but I am branching out), listen to this new (to me) band. This willingness to experiment has spread to photography, too: try these other settings on my camera, try this angle or that subject matter, edit this picture differently than that picture, start a blog. I decided that, since I really have fallen for photography, I should fully explore and embrace it and not limit myself to the fraction of it that I previously knew.
This is the line of thought I had when I heard about a local event. A local shop paired up with Lomography to hold a photo tour of a local park. The kind people at Lomography provided film and cameras for the event, asking that we return the camera afterward and drop copies of the photos off at the store. Sounds fun, right?
I had some reservations, though, about all this. I switched from film to digital cameras in 2005, but hadn’t used my film camera regularly since 2003. It’s now 2012. (You’re welcome for stating the obvious.) Moreover, all of my experience with cameras until 2010 had been with simple point-and-shoots. In 2010, I bought my Nikon D5000. This camera is my baby, and it has totally changed my approach to photography. Through much trial and error (and some research, and lots of practice) I’ve learned how my camera works, what the different settings are, how to achieve the photograph I envision in my head (for the most part). I am almost to the point where adjusting the settings and shooting is instinctive (almost). To jump back to film, with a camera that has almost no settings to adjust, felt a little like I was undoing the hard work I had done in the last two years. But it sounded so fun, too…
I decided to do it, despite the nagging feeling in my mind. I mean, how often does someone offer to turn you loose in a park with a new-to-you camera and a roll of film and let you play? On the day of the event, I opted for a Diana F+ camera, which produces “dreamy, radiant, lo-fi images” (and with which you can only get 12 to 16 exposures on one roll of 120 film). I explored the park, taking this shot and that, and wondering why I hadn’t hit the end of my roll yet. The reason finally dawned on me: I hadn’t been advancing the roll. My first section of film had about 20 (25?) exposures on it!!! Remember how I said that it has been almost a decade since I regularly used a film camera? Yeah, please remember that, then laugh at me. Now that everyone else had finished with their shots, and the kind people of Lomography were waiting, in the cold, on me, I scrambled to take my remaining 11 shots and turn in the gear. I dropped the film off at a local photo supply store (since most other labs wouldn’t have been able to process it) and headed home.
Yesterday, I picked up both sets of prints and the CD of images, dropped the second set off at the store, and then reviewed my set in the car. My first reaction? Honestly, I was embarrassed by my shots, disappointed that I forgot something as basic as forwarding the film, and frustrated with the cost of this little experiment. Film ain’t cheap. But then, I thought about it again. This camera is intended to produce “dreamy, radiant, lo-fi images”. The rules set out by the sponsor company include “Don’t think”, “Try the shot from the hip”, “You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film; afterwards either” and “Don’t worry about any rules”. The goal was not to produce stunning images that I would include in a portfolio, present to clients, and sell for buckets of moolah. Instead, it was to experiment, try something new, push myself, be creative, to have fun. And that’s exactly what I did. I tried something new, and I had a blast.
Without further ado, I present some of the shots from that day. To preserve the integrity of trying something new, I have not edited these, at all.
Are these the finest pictures I have ever taken? No. No. But, in a way, I’m fond of them. They’ve definitely grown on me since I first reviewed them. And the experience was so much fun. I’d even consider future experiments with film cameras, when I can better afford it. For now, though, I’m happy to go back to my DSLR. That said, I will keep trying new things, pushing myself, and reminding myself that sometimes it’s okay to forget the rules and just have fun.
Photographs © Nicole McDaniel and Nicole McDaniel Photography, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.