A novice lomographer rambles on about returning to analogue after a nearly decade long affair with digital. The break-up was messy and they rarely talk anymore. But, alas, our hero finds rekindled love in film.
The last time I shot film was in 2002. Since then I progressed through increasing megapixels, culminating in a 12 that I tried to create lo-fi-esque photos with. I only ever shot with the pinhole “format.” It’s a special setting under the “magic filters” of the Olympus SP600-UZ. I photochopped them to have vignetting and cross-processed like looks. De-saturate for age and filter for texture.
Then, I discovered lomography. These plastic cameras that create something wholly unique. What you see in the viewfinder is not necessarily what will come out in the print. What you see with your own eyes may not be what comes out – light leaks and double exposures and splitzters and the dreamy look of a plastic lens capturing life.
I bought my first lomo camera (Diana Mini). I shot my first roll (Fuji 400 exp2002). I shot my second roll (See first roll). I ordered a 2nd camera (DIY Recesky TLR). I built a camera (Pinhole). I’m eying more.
After that first roll, my wife and I discussed this phenomenon and what it all meant. Why was this more fascinating? Why was I so engrossed? obsessed? And it hit me. It came to me as if in a dream. Call it clarity:
Film is visceral. Film is tangible. Digital is instant gratification. It’s pristine, glossy, hospital steralized, perfection. It beeps when it’s done. Automatic.
The sound of a shot. Click! The shutter, violently thrashing within the body. Capturing the essence. “Taking” the picture in that it takes something – grabbing it and pulling it inside. That sound is like magic. It’s satisfying and refreshing. It assures me that something happened. I don’t have to look at the screen to know that the shot happened. The click tells me so.
Gears ticking. When you advance the film you know it’s moving, working. You hear the sprockets rolling, physically spin the wheel yourself. Sometimes I like to slowly advance the film tick by tick just to hear it. It’s reassuring knowing that there’s more on that roll of film. The tick, a whisper in my ear – encouraging.
The anticipation. Some people like to shake their presents before Christmas. I quite enjoy the wait. Not knowing what will turn out and what won’t. Thinking back, considering if I focused properly or if I left the shutter open too long. Imagining what the images might look like. Trying to remember what the hell I shot…
Thank you camera. Thank you you wonderful thing. Thank you for allowing patience in this mad-dash, two sheets to the wind world.