Here’s a short story about a beautiful sunny day spent at the beach at Mentor Headlands State Park captured with a Pentax K1000 and a roll of expired Kodak BW400CN film.
Living in a world of color is something we take for granted. We only see in black and white when we choose to. Photography today incorporates so much color that we often forget that we weren’t always so fortunate, especially in the world of analog photography. Not long ago, the cameras people carried to capture their memories only contained black and white film. No matter how many colors existed in that moment in time when the shutter opened, the camera only saw two. But this simplicity isn’t a fault, it’s a tool. Black and white focuses our view on the subject as a whole, and with people, it draws us in. It forces us to use our imagination. And when shooting people, it brings out the humanity and the emotions to a whole new level.
Last weekend, I took a trip with some friends to Mentor Headlands State Park to enjoy an August afternoon full of sunshine, sand, good food, and of course, analog photography. Prior to leaving, I decided to capture the days events in black and white, the same way people used to do 50 years ago. Armed with a Pentax K1000 and a roll of expired Kodak BW400CN film, we made our way 30 miles due East of Cleveland to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying the fading days of summer. Given the random effects of expired film, I knew the chances of having my pictures look like they were taken decades ago would be quite good, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Upon arrival, we found a picnic table at the first entrance to the beach and fired up the grill.
Shortly after our meal, we decided to pack up our things and make our way onto the beach, but not before hearing the sounds of a person in deep slumber. About 15 feet from our table, a man lay on a blanket beneath a tree, clearly exhausted and snoring like a freight train. The moment was too funny and random to ignore, so I slipped over and quietly snapped the picture, hoping the sound of my K1000’s shutter firing wouldn’t awaken him. Luckily, the man continued his deep slumber unabated.
The water was quite chilly, so swimming was only enjoyed by a few people, myself included. My friend Christa, who hails from California, had modeling experience, so I convinced her to be my subject for a quick photo shoot. Her smile and warmth came through loud and clear, and this expired film captured it in every detail with the vintage look that I was after.
It took a little coaxing, but I finally talked her into stepping into the water..
Looking down the beach, I decided to capture the entire vista as best I could, knowing that this film would add a certain level of grain. Once again, the results gave me a picture that looked like it could’ve been taken long before any of us were born.
After a few games of volleyball, we packed decided to call it a day and make the trek back home. I had one shot left on this roll, so I asked my friend Pam if she would like to be captured with the last frame. After getting over her brief moment of camera shyness, I snapped the last shot of the day. Ironically, this shot came out the clearest.
Looking back on this awesome day, the pictures at the beginning of the roll were the grainiest, but towards the end, the pictures leveled out and became clear and sharp. This was such a fun day to capture, not knowing how any of these shots would turn out. I had no idea how this film was stored, but loving the mystery of shooting expired film, I knew I would be rewarded with awesome lomographic memories. I always love being near the water. Spending the work week in a cubicle behind a computer screen, trips to the beach, even if it’s in Ohio, always rejuvenate my spirit. It was almost like a vacation. An afternoon of summer fun at the beach, friends, and a healthy dose of analog photography…I can’t imagine a place I’d rather be.