Getting out of a photographic rut is quite difficult. When I shot Cinestill film back in February for a project, I was hoping to stretch my style out so that it involved more elements in the frame. My main approach was to position people predominantly in a ‘rule of thirds’ framework. My inspiration for this idea was the work of Alex Webb. I didn’t quite work.
However, I think the idea of freshening things up is a good one. When I look back at my work, I always notice that certain types of shots are dominant in my repertoire. I usually call them ‘environmental portraits’ as they often set the people in the context of their environment backdrop. This is often a reflection of how I think.
However, I do really like those (relatively) rare occasions in which I get up close and personal in my photography. The shots are much more intimate, involved, dynamic and intense. In the next few months, I might stick a wide angle lens on a camera and shoot specifically with this idea in mind as a ‘one project’.
One of the reasons I have started to set myself challenges in the form of the ‘one project’ each month, is that I want to stretch myself more creatively. This month, my interest is in trying to shoot objects that mark the presence of people in some way. I am getting more interested in vernacular photography, but I think there is a fine line between “that’s a great shot” and “who cares, that’s boring” responses to the images for me. I suspect my work this month will be the latter!
Ultimately, I would like to find ways to get out of my current creative rut to develop new ways of expressing myself photographically.
Below is one image that I actually took before the red project I have been doing this month. But, it sort of fits as a bridge for this month’s one project and what I intend to do next month.
In April, I am going to do a project called ‘presence’. The aim is for it to be about the presence of people, but without people actually being in the photos. Therefore, it’s going to be shots of objects and places. I am going to shoot on a Canon AE-1 with a 28mm lens on Fuji Acros 100. I am really enjoying shooting colour at the moment, but it’s good to shoot some black and white for a change and mix things up.
I am struggling to get the epub format up on WordPress. I have a couple of e-books to post up (one of which will be the red project of this month). However, once I have worked it out I will post up a link. I might set up a new page titled ‘eBooks’ to make it clearer.
Today, I would say, has been the nicest weather of the year. Spring well and truly feels that it is on its way. I really like spring, it’s my favourite time of the year. You can enjoy spring knowing that the summer (what we have of it in Britain!) is still ahead of you.
At the moment, I constantly have two cameras on me. A Leica MP rangefinder and a Nikon F3 SLR. The F3 is for the red project and the MP is for general shooting of things that do not fit with the red project. My aim was to have 36 negatives on a roll with red in them. However, I have enjoyed using the Nikon so much that it’s become my main camera at the moment and the MP has been relegated to back up camera. Just goes to show that the most expensive camera doesn’t always win out.
So, I have ended up with Ektar 100 in the F3 (yet another 5 rolls on the way… that’s 15 bought this month, so far) and Portra 400 in the MP. Seems like a fair compromise to me, one for the good light and one for the lower light! I can just about get away with 400ISO at night, but’s it’s a push. I know, digital is easier…
What I have noticed about Ektar is that when the sun is out it produces pastel like colours and produces a look that is not dissimilar tonally to medium format. However, when the sun goes in and the light becomes darker the colours really seem to become saturated. I haven’t seen a film change so much in character in different weather conditions. However, I really like the effects. Of course in Britain, a lot of shots are going to be very saturated!
Last month, my project was to shoot with Cinestill film. The results were OK, nothing to really write home about. I shot three rolls of film in the end. Two have been scanned, but I still need to finish the third.
This month, I have been shooting with a Nikon F3, a 50mm 1.4 lens and Kodak Ektar. To add a bit of structure, I am giving myself a brief for each month. This month, as I am using colour film, I am focusing on the colour red. I have been very productive so far this month, and had to order more film as I shot through 5 rolls of Ektar in about two weeks. Mind you, it has been a very busy few weeks generally!
Two things I can say is that (1) Kodak Ektar is a great film, the colours are amazing. It’s certainly a film that I intend to keep using on a very regular basis; (2) the Nikon F3 is a lovely camera. I can see why they made them for over 20 years. It was a camera that I always wanted since being a teenager, so it’s nice to finally get my hands on one and shoot with it. The 50mm Nikon AI lens is not a sharp as a 50mm Leica Summilux. But that’s to be expected. However, it does have a lot of character. I really like the look it gives when shot wide open. The bokeh is very nice.
I am intending to publish the work as an e-book at the end of the month. Unlike last month, when I waited until the end, I am processing and scanning as I go along. So, hopefully, something tangible will emerge quicker. However, time for scanning has cut down on time for blogging!