Last October I toured southern California with musician Patrick Park, a LomoKino and a plethora of film. I'd intended to capture the scenic terrain and abstract beauty of the land, but fell short on my first attempt to control the Lomokino.
As a professional filmmaker living in Los Angeles, I’m incessantly looking for new tools to enhance and aid in the communication of a narrative. Given that I’m an avid fan of celluloid, discovering the LomoKino was akin to finding a long lost Incan civilization. I was excited, to say the least.
Fast forward to Patrick Park sharing the song “Dust and Mud” off his latest album Love Like Swords. I was immediately enthralled. The catchy rhythm, playful tone and timeless quality captured on the track demanded a visual component that is equally engaging. Striving for an organic extension to compliment the song in a manner that would be equally as charismatic in it’s overall aesthetic, I chose to utilize the super 35mm LomoKino.
The inherent nuances captured in camera seemed to highlight the peculiar journey Patrick set out on. It was a perfect pairing. The perennial sounds of Patrick Park coupled with the ageless characteristics of celluloid.
Trying the LomoKino for the first time
Let’s back up for a moment though and speak to the trials and tribulations I endured while attempting to control the LomoKino during principle photography. As I had previously mentioned I’m a professional filmmaker living in the motion picture capital of the world. I’m an established industry union member and boutique production company owner who has utilized a vast majority of existing camera formats.
With that said, I had not done a camera test on the LomoKino in advance of implementing it in the field and had to default to the technical specs provided online. Unfortunately, those technical specs proved to be insufficient as my first two-day shoot with the camera and twenty rolls of slide film failed to provide enough exposure to merit scanning.
The problem, as it turned out, is that the camera is not scientifically calibrated or rated for the posted f-stops, frame rates and shutter noted. I however treated the format accordingly and brought with me a reliable Sekonic L-608 light meter. I set the meter to the associated film speed, frame rate and shutter.
Shooting day exteriors gave me ample light and I had purchased neutral density filters in advance to tape over the lens if required. I chose to shoot slide film because I wanted vibrant, saturated colors and understood that my toe to shoulder latitude would be limited, so I was very precise in setting the on camera f-stop (5.6, 8 & 11) and in administering the ND filtration I had acquired.
The LomoKino loves light
After shipping the film to Lomo New York for processing and scanning, I was notified that the negative had been underexposed. Puzzled, I contacted Lomo for further clarification. They were very thoughtful and considerate in helping me trouble shoot the dilemma. It was at this juncture that they told me, “The LomoKino loves light.” I was perplexed by this statement. I had always treated the exposure and subsequent development of film with precision, understanding that chemical processing was an art form in itself based on science.
So, what did “The LomoKino loves light” translate to when in the field attempting to capture a desired look? Well, in the case of the highly affordable LomoKino, it meant to utilize the camera minus the associated technical specs. It meant to shoot freely, to have fun with the camera and to accept the inherent idiosyncrasies associated with exposing film. It literally translated to embracing the organic nature of the camera by trusting that the film emulsion would find its light.
With my newly understood knowledge of the camera my second two-day outing to capture Patrick Park on his whimsical journey was photographed on a negative film stock. With my refined understanding of all known sensitivities I was successful in capturing Patrick’s trek. The silver lining of this experience ultimately proved to be the project we completed and in closing I’m hopeful the video will be equally as enjoyable for you to view as it was for me to make.