Photography is subjective.
One of the great “knocked down to size” experiences for a photographer is to show work he or she is proud of to someone who isn’t “into” photography and to have it flatly rejected. I asked a roommate to compare crops of this image, and she had no opinion between the two. Did she love them both madly? No. She didn’t find either remotely interesting. In a way, it’s like having something very personal taken from you. Maybe it’s like watching your child get picked on (I wouldn’t know, but that tired simile is just trite enough for my liking).
When I told her I thought this particular crop (or one very much like it) was funny, she made a face. Not a “you’re right, it is funny” face, either. An “I don’t get it, you’re a narcissist and no one else thinks your baby is cute” face.
This photo also raises an ethical issue I try carefully not to consider: This is a child. It isn’t my first candid street shot of a minor, and it certainly won’t be my last, but these always make me nervous. I know my legal rights, and this is well within them. Not only that, I can resell prints of this image to anyone I please for any price I please (as long as it isn’t destined for commercial use) without so much as a feeble attempt to locate this girl. However, I am terrified that some crazy helicopter parent is going to bash me over the head with an “I have to capture every precious moment of my child’s entire life to sit collecting dust on a shelf underneath my television” video camera one of these days (which, to be fair, would hurt a lot less than my K1000). I hope that doesn’t happen. However, I am also tired of every parent that sees my camera clutching their toddlers to their chests and glowering. There is this terrible assumption that photographs of children are used for some vaguely evil purpose centered around the great evil, the Internet. I’m not sure what evil thing I’m supposed to be doing, but rest assured, I am not doing it. I need a t-shirt that says that. In neon yellow. Any maybe a helmet.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+ 1+9.
Photography is. . .
Especially film photography. Especially especially when you develop the film four or five weeks after you shoot it. Not only did I forget most of what was on these rolls, I had a rather rude awakening to what worked and what didn’t. It’s this processing (literally) delay that is so alluring about film. Once I’m detached from my images, it’s much easier to see what I did right (usually by accident) and what I did wrong (usually what I thought I did right).
The other thing that’s surprising about photography (especially when there’s a delay) is that it often allows you to revisit what you saw in a breadthless instant and mull it over for as long as you’d like, reinterpreting it as you see fit. When I shot this frame, it looked like this. I wasn’t impressed, and passed over it multiple times when trying to find the “keepers” from my D.C. set. When I was looking for something to put up here to kick off my photo week, something about it caught my eye. After some adjusting and cropping, I figured out what it was: The expression on the soldier’s face. A few more crop attempts, a little digital burning, and a lot of dust spot and scanner artifact removal (CVS insists their scanners are clean and it’s an artifact of the scanning process, though I only half believe them), and this is the result.
When I first saw the scene, I was drawn to the soldier’s expression. You can tell because it’s what I focused on. However, I thought the other soldiers in the background added more interest. Upon further inspection of the frozen slice of time I took, I realized that all of this was distracting, and rearranged the slice accordingly. Now it says what I want it to, and probably what I wanted it to all along. Unfortunately, because the scan was intended for a 4×6 print and I’ve lopped of two thirds of it, it’s pretty pixelated by now. Bear with me. This one’s on my list for a high-res scan in the future.
Old faithful (for photographers in general, not me) Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+ at the normal dilution, which I’m pretty sure I’m never using again. 1+19 is smoother, scans better, and costs less. Sure beats turning the contrast all the way down in Lightroom and throwing away 20 milliliters of developer every time I develop a roll. If I could only use my fixer at 1+19. . .
Another fun title. The more I look at it, the more I like the results from my Tri-X roll from early in the summer. The images aren’t fantastic, but I like the character of the film. I’ll have more to look at soon, as my second roll from the summer’s D.C. work trip is now developed (one roll of T-Max 400, one roll of Tri-X 400). I hope to have them scanned later today and ready for consumption tomorrow.
Also, I have a cart full of Plus-X and Tri-X ready to go because I ran out of fixer this week and need to meet a $25 minimum for my order. I’m interested to see what the Plus-X is like.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+.
This is from my first-ever roll of Tri-X, and is very typical of the results I like to see from the film. I’m going back and considering my film options now that I found out that my Agfapan source has apparently run dry (which makes sense, since Agfa itself ran dry years ago). The films that are frontrunners to succeed APX400 for everyday use are Tri-X 400 (I don’t think the 320 even exists in 35mm) and Plus-X, since I have been happy with my Tri-X , it’s common and information related to using it is readily available, and I can get those two cheap (the most important factor). I developed my second-ever roll of Tri-X Wednesday night (and into the wee hours of Thursday morning- long story), and hopefully I’ll be seeing and sharing the results early next week. They look good enough to me, but I am in no way a good reader of negatives yet.
Kodak TX400, Clayton F76+ at normal 1+9.
Something about the original appealed to me, so I re-shot the scene with Tri-X about a week later, and there’s something I find interesting about this one as well.
Kodak Tri-X 400 developed in Clayton F76+.