Monday, March 29, 2010

Rediscovered Negatives: Im Augenblick

Flatbush Avenue at night, Brooklyn, New York, 1988

An artist friend emailed me recently, commending my photograph of the tire shop in Pixley, California I had taken with my cell phone camera.  As she is an accomplished artist, I was very pleased to have received the compliment.

The bane of most photographers' existences -- unbeknownst to them -- is that the more advanced they become (either aesthetically, or in the business) the more they let themselves be enslaved to the superior technology of their expensive camera gear.  Over time (and I am not exempting myself from this observation), their work becomes slick, but stale.  All the oomph has been taken out of it as they've progressed from Pentax K-1000 to Nikon FM-2 to whatever the hell digital camera kit with the bells and whistles people use nowadays.

The cameras to which I am most enslaved are the Rolleiflex SL-66 and Nikon FM-3A.  So, when I get into a compositional rut, I head out with the Polaroid Colorpack III, a disposable camera from Walgreen's, or my camera phone.  When one's tools are primitive, the photographer must exercise his creative mind fully to overcome his camera's flaws.

When I took this photograph, in 1988, it was with 110 film on my Kodak Ektralite 10 camera -- a pocket camera that makes photos roughly the size of 16mm movie frames.  My mainstay on a student budget was the Ricoh KR-5 Super 35mm SLR.  But it was the Ektralite that kept me "honest."

This image can be found in much poorer quality on my website, but last year I finally found the negative, hiding in a box of letters.  I was quite pleasantly surprised at the quality of the Verichrome Pan negative exposed on such a cheap camera.