Film Photography: Random Thoughts on Photography as 2012 Nears

2011 was a good year for me in photography. I sold some prints, had a few pages in magazines, and I had two shows, including a current solo exhibit at Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Brooklyn Heights Cinema, Shawn Hoke Photo Exhibit

I also switched my walk around camera from a 35mm Nikon FM2n to a Hasselblad 501cm with a standard 80mm f2.8 Zeiss lens. The Haselblad has become an extension of me. I focus it and shoot almost as quickly as I did with my Nikon, but I'm much happier with the final product. Being limited to 12 shots per roll also slows me down a bit. I don't *have* to take shots of everything.

Strangely, my thoughts on photography have changed in a few ways this year:

First, I realized that I shoot too much. I shot over 250 rolls of film this year (about 65% of that 120mm, 35% 35mm), plus a dozen packs of Fuji Instant pack film. I scanned all those rolls myself. That represents a lot of time in front of the computer. Too much time if you ask me. I could be out walking around and enjoying life instead of scanning and cataloging negatives.

Second, I realized that I don't always have to carry a camera. In fact, it's freeing to not carry a camera. Photography taught me how to notice things, but for a spell, it also made me a bit obsessive about carrying a camera. That has definitely changed. While it helps that Kate often carries our D90 DSLR to document things for her own blog, even she opts to leave the camera at home.

Lastly, I realized that I have too many cameras. I've never thought of myself as a collector, but I do have a couple cameras that sit gathering dust. I need to keep the cameras that I use regularly and jettison the ones that I don't. I sold my Nikon F3 this year and am giving away my Ciro-flex C3. But that means I need to get rid of my never-used Kodak Retina, my seldom-used Olympus XA, and probably my Nikon FM2n. The Nikon FM2n is one of my favorite cameras, but I don't really shoot 35mm that often. I have an Olympus OM-1 that I will never part with because it's a family camera passed down to me. That leaves me with two 35mm cameras, which is one too many.

I'd like to pare down my cameras to the Hasselblad and one 35mm. Which brings me to a bit of hypocrisy. I said that I had too many cameras. And yet, I bought another camera this fall. I purchased a used Toyo 45AII large format camera from Craigslist and have started to get comfortable with shooting large format. I like everything about the process of shooting and developing 4x5 film.

Unfortunately, my Epson V500 scanner doesn't scan a huge 4x5 negative. I started out just scanning a partial part of the negative and got this:

Partial Scan from Epson V500, Bar Cart, Toyo 45AII, Kodak Tri-X 320, Xtol Stock Solution

But then I realized that I could scan the 4x5 negative in two parts and stitch them together in Photoshop Elements. It's a bit more time-consuming, but I refuse to buy another scanner.

Stitched Scans from Epson V500 in PSE, Row Boat, St. Michaels, Maryland, Kodak Tri-X 320, Xtol 1+1

For 2012, I'd like to focus on being more selective about what I shoot. I want to stick with one camera for each format (35mm, medium format, and large format). Ultimately, I know these things will make me better photographer. Using my Toyo 4x5, I plan on shooting more portraits. My favorite person to shoot has, for the time being, politely declined to sit for my 4x5, so I'll be reaching out to friends until she comes around.