Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Jacob Carlson would use any and every kind of camera to create still and moving images. Fast forward to a few years later, Jacob is now a photographer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn working with both digital and analog. Now that he has access to many more cameras, Jacob has been experimenting with any medium he can put his hands on, pushing him to think outside the box and improve his skills to make a living out of his passion. No wonder why the latest addition to our LomoFamily, the HydroChrome Sutton's Panoramic Belair Camera clicked well with Jacob's urban yet creative style. He tested out the camera in his neighborhood for some wide in colors shot of Brooklyn!
Hello Jacob! Great to have you here at Lomography. First off, can you tell us why you still shoot analog?
I grew up shooting film but quickly switched to digital as soon as I was able to get a digital camera that took decent photos. Over the last five years, I've fallen back in love with shooting on film. For me, it affords a lot more experimentation. I love finding expired film stocks that I've never shot just to see what they look like, how they react to different types of light and color. It's a much more involved process for me and I really really enjoy that. I've probably got about 50 rolls of different films, new and expired, in my fridge right now and just as many cameras littering my apartment. It's obviously become a huge part of my life.
What do you usually like to shoot?
Because of the pandemic, I've mostly shot a mixture of street and urban landscape photography recently. It's nice to choose a camera that matches my mood, get out of my apartment, and just walk around shooting whatever interests me. It's really relaxing and allows me to see parts of my neighborhood that I would normally just breeze through on the bus or a scooter. Aside from that, I love playing with light in portraits. But I need to work on finding willing subjects.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I tend to draw inspiration from nature a lot. I don't necessarily mean forests and mountains, although those do come into play... what I mean is that I try to let the way a subject or a scene naturally reacts to light inform and inspire how and when I photograph it. Doing this also forces me to view places and things from as many angles and perspectives as possible and I think that is a good skill to have for life in general.
I've also curated a nice collection of photographers on IG whose work I admire. If I'm feeling a bit uninspired, I'll scroll through there and most of the time it will cause me to think about something in a unique way that then motivates me to go shoot.
How was your experience using the Hydrochrome?
The Hydrochrome is a very interesting camera. I had previously built the Lomomod No. 1 so I was familiar with the Sutton lens, but the panoramic field of view of the Hydrochrome really piqued my interest. Using the camera is a very stress-free process since there are essentially no manual controls. You just cock the shutter, roughly frame up your shot, and click. For me, this was very freeing and I was able to focus on other aspects without worrying about my settings.
What did you like about it?
The biggest selling point for me is definitely the wide field of view. So many people, I included, covet the Hasselblad X-Pan because of its ability to create really cinematic photos. Don't get me wrong, this camera is not an X-pan, but with it, I am still able to capture extremely wide photos that really lend themselves to showing off "scenes" within the photo.
What were some of the challenges you faced while using it?
Because there are no manual controls, I sometimes found myself in a situation where I wanted to take a photo but the combination of the film's iso and the camera's shutter and aperture were not going to allow me to. I knew this going into it so I was generally looking for scenes that fell within the range of the settings I had.
From the pictures you sent us do you have a favorite?
I'm going to cheat and choose two. There is a really nice scene I was able to catch two women waiting for the bus. The combination of this photo and the next one where I was able to catch the extra-long bus taking up the whole frame not only tells a story about life in this specific neighborhood but is a nice example of where the camera really shines.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to shoot with it?
Don't have specific expectations. The camera is really fun and can help to create some really cool and unique photos, but it's also very quirky and can produce unexpected results. That's really the heart of Lomography. If you understand that and are willing to work with it, you'll have lots of rewarding and fun experiences with this camera.
What are the mixes you tried for the liquid solution? Do you have a favorite one?
I tried a few different things with the lens but my favorite practical application so far has been using it as a yellow or red filter for black and white photography. The first roll I put through the camera was a roll of Kentmere and I used some watered down pineapple juice as a yellow filter on the film.
In what context do you see yourself using this camera?
Honestly, I can see myself using the camera for a lot of different types of shoots, including portraits, but the place in which it shines for me is in street photography. Not only does it allow you to capture an extremely wide scene, but it also allows you to step away from the technical side and focus on what and where you are creating your images.