Saturday, April 30, 2011

A zen way of learning photography

I went to collect my first set of prints from Boots the Chemist yesterday. When the young lady picked the envelope out of the drawer it seemed awfully thin. The reason it was thin was because there were no prints in it. The negatives were blank.

I asked her whether I'd exposed the film by opening the back of the camera too early.
''No, if you'd done that the negatives would be black. The negatives are clear, no light has been on them. You've either brought us in a film that you never used or the film never went through the camera''

I went to a friends' sons 1st birthday party. Philip was there, he's a professional photographer. He explained what must have happened.
''You'll have put the film in wrong, it won't have wound on''
''But I was taking pictures and it was winding on''
"The camera will have let you press the shutter-release button and pull the film advance leaver, but if the film wasn't engaged in the sprocket then it won't actually have moved your film on at all. The film will have stayed rolled in the cannister.''

I asked Philip how I could make sure I don't do it again.

''Load the new film. Put the end in the sprocket, wind it on. Then take a couple of pictures with the back open. Even though you might waste some film, its worth it. When you are satisfied that it has wound on properly close the back, take a few blank shots and away you go'

So of the 7 films I have shot since my friend lent me the OM 10 camera:
- film 1 is at a photographic studio that always seems to be shut whenever I go walk down the High Street
- film 2 was blank
- film 3 I exposed by opening the camera back too early
- films 4 and 5 are at Boots the Chemist (coming back a week on Tuesday)
- film 6 is in my cupboard waiting to go to Boots the Chemist

The feedback loop is getting really long now. It is a zen way of learning photography.

The zen teacher gives the student a camera. Student goes through all the motions - focusing the picture, setting the aperture, checking the shutter speed, pressing the shutter release, winding the film on. But they are never shown the prints. Not until the student is ready will they be shown the prints.

1 comment:

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Great post - there was a book once called Zen and the Art of Photography. I love the title, but the contents were so painfully pretentious I couldn't bring myself to buy it :-)

Check out Inscape, a tiny journal edited by my friend William Bishop - you may well find some soul mates.

Welcome to the deep (but sometimes cruel) world of contemplative photography :-)