Film Photography Day, 2019

For Film Photography Day this year, I loaded up a Nikon F with Ilford HP5+ and hit the streets of Franklin and Dayton Ohio. I then developed the photos in D76. It was a beautiful day for photography.  Enjoy!

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These two photos were taken on Main Street in Franklin Ohio, the town we call home.  

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At the edge of Franklin, there’s a railroad bridge that crosses the Great Miami River.  This bridge is always a favorite photographic subject.  

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The Great Miami River also runs through downtown Dayton, where these next photos were taken. The city has put in a lot of effort to make the riverfront an enjoyable place for the community.  

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Here we have a camera in waiting. Perhaps this one will be the subject of a future blog. 

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How did you spend Film Photography Day?   

2018 Was A Great Year For Film Photography For Me

It’s here. 2019. Twenty. Nineteen.  It just doesn’t seem possible. I’ll turn 49 years old this year. And as I’m peeking over the edge of my first fifty years of existence, there are going to be some first time experiences for me...and I’m excited as hell about it.  

First things first. I have some goals from 2018 that didn’t quite come to fruition. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great year, but there were some goals that I had set for myself that I never totally achieved. But before we discuss those, I want to talk about some of the good things that happened.

2018 was the year I dove head first into film photography. I’ve shot film in the past, but never at this magnitude. I shot more film in 2018 than I ever had in any other decade, much less any other year. 

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2018 was also the year I attended the Film Photography Project Walking Workshop in Findlay Ohio. In addition to the awesome folks at FPP, I also met some really cool fellow film shooters, some of which I still talk to on a regular basis.

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I hosted my first photo walks in 2018. There were two. Some of the attendees were people I met in Findlay. Others were either friends of theirs, or had seen photos from the first photo walk and wanted to be a part of the second one. Much film was shot and great friends were made. The communal aspect of film photography is one of the things I love about being a part of this culture. There’s just nothing else like it.

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I also made my first darkroom prints in 2018. I took a black and white darkroom class at my local community college, where I met some great people and definitely grew as a photographer. I loved that time in the darkroom creating images that can never be duplicated. It was a magical experience.

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And last but definitely not least, I launched this blog. I haven’t given it nearly enough attention, but that’s one of my goals for 2019. I really hope to post at least once a month. I quite possibly pick up a film camera every single day. Surely I have enough material related to film photography that I could share, whether it’s new developments, a new camera, or something stupid I did that’s funny enough to share in a way that I can hopefully prevent someone from making the same silly mistake.

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Case in point.  I did something so stupid that I can’t help but tell people about, even if it’s just so I can tell them that no mistake they may make can be any worse than what I did. Let’s go back to Findlay Ohio, August 2018  I’m on a photowalk with other films photographers, snapping away like crazy. I knew we were going to be out shooting for a while, so I was sure to bring extra film. I’m paying attention to the frame count on my Minolta X-370, and notice I’m at 34 frames. I snap off another picture. Click, wind. I see another shot. I compose the image and shoot. Click, wind. This should be my last shot. Click, wind. Ooh!  Extra frames!  Everyone loves extra frames!  Click, wind. There’s no tension on the wind lever. Click, wind?  Two extra frames??  Really??? Click, wind. Click, wind. Click, wind. Still no tension. I think you’ve probably figured out where this is going. I had certainly figured it out by this time, but alas, it was too late. I gave it one more “click, wind” just for confirmation. Only this time, I did something I should have been doing all along. I watched for the rewind knob to turn. Only it didn’t. You see, the X-370 is a manual camera. It won’t wind the film for you. It doesn’t have a fancy beep to tell you something is wrong. It’s so simple, in fact, that it doesn’t even have a little window in the back to let you know there’s film in the camera. But somehow, while standing shoulder to shoulder in a group of film photographers, I didn’t need that little window to confirm what I had just figured out; that there wasn’t going to be anything behind the door when I opened the camera. I had been walking around the better part of the afternoon shooting blanks. This is where you laugh. Hysterically. Because that’s what I did. It’s all I COULD do.  Laugh, I did. Then I quietly loaded the camera, watching for the film rewind knob to turn before carrying on with the group.  It was months before I told any of them, but it’s a story I now share regularly. 

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Goals from 2018 that I hope to improve upon this year?  Write more, and do less stupid stuff ( like forgetting to load my camera).  I think we can do tgat  

So. Back to 2019. What does this year have on the agenda?  There are going to be some firsts. 

I will shoot large format photography this year for the first time. I purchased a Crown Graphic 4x5 camera last year, but never shot it. That baby is going to see some action this year. It’s far too pretty of a camera to be a shelf queen. 

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I’m also building a 4x5 rail camera this year. I start another film photography class in less than a week, where we will be using the same type of equipment. I figured I might as well get one of my own so that I can fully immerse myself into it. 

The previously mentioned class is going to revolve around studio photography, another first for me. I don’t mind taking photos of people, but I’ve never considered myself a portrait photographer, nor did I ever think I’d be interested in becoming one. But there’s just something amazing about portraits taken on large format film. They have a special look to them. A look I seem to have fallen in love with. I want to learn to achieve that look. Hopefully, 2019 is my start down that path. 

And last but certainly not least, 2019 will be the first year that I’ll take part in a year long group photography project. I’ll discuss the details and possibly some photos in my next post, but what I will say about it is that it’s a monthly obligation to shoot the same kind of film in the same camera. That’s 12 rolls for the year, all in the same camera. Should be fun!

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So, what’s on your agenda for 2019?  A new camera?  A new format of film?  Maybe even a new shooting style?  One thing is for sure..  It’s your year.  It’s your opportunity to try something new and different. Or, you could just do what you did last year. But where’s the fun in that?!?!  Now, get out there and shoot!!  

Why Do You Photograph?

October 31st. Halloween.

This day always revives many memories for me. I shouldn’t say “revives”. It’s more like “reminds”. This photograph was taken 30+ years ago. The exact amount of “plus” has been forgotten, but the 30 years hasn’t been. Neither has the Halloween of 30 years ago, for this was the Halloween that we buried my 15 year old brother. He had been hit by a car a week earlier and was laid to rest on Halloween.

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Why do we photograph?  To record?  To document?  To remember?  I photograph for two reasons.

The first: to communicate artistic thoughts, ideas and feelings that I can’t through any other medium.

The second: to remember.  I’m convinced that my memory fades each passing day. It was never great, but as I age, so does it.

I read a passage in the Sally Mann book “Hold Still” recently that really made me think about memories.  It stated: “I tend to agree with the theory that if you want to keep a memory pristine, you must not call upon it too often, for each time it is revisited, you alter it irrevocably, remembering not the original impression left by experience but the last time you recalled it. With tiny differences creeping in at each cycle, the exercise of our memory does not bring us closer to the past but draws us farther away”.

I found this theory interesting. And it made me think that my second reason I photograph is the most important one. My memories change, but my photographs don’t. This photo looks the same today as it did 30+ years ago. It remembers the smile my brain would have forgotten.  Not that I would have forgotten it entirely, but I certainly would have forgotten some of the specifics about it.

There’s one thing I’ll never forget, and that’s his last words. “I’m going to try to cross. I think I can make it.”. He didn’t. And I’ve never forgotten that brisk October evening.

Rest in peace little brother.

Photograph. Share. Remember.

You Meet The Nicest People While Shooting Film

My wife and I met Fred and Lori while walking around Cincinnati on Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day earlier this year. I was admiring the restored neon sign and framing a shot in my Minolta X-370 when I heard a voice say “You like that sign?”.When I replied “yes”, the man said “Want to see the inside?”.

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As it would turn out, that voice belonged to Fred, the owner of the Bay Horse. Fred had noticed that I was not using a new-fangled digital camera and admired my fondness for the analog cameras. He said that he used to shoot a Minolta just like it “back in the day“.Even though the establishment didn’t open for hours, Fred and his partner, Lori, unlocked the doors and gave us a tour of the saloon. Fred and Lori entertained us with stories about the history of the Bay Horse, including the restoration and the desire to make it “like it originally was at the turn of the century”, but not before posing for this photo.

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Once the film was developed, I shared these photos with them and have remained in touch. I contacted them when planning a film photography photowalk in Cincinnati on September 15, and Lori graciously offered to open the doors so our group of film photographers can photograph this beautiful piece of Cincinnati history.  If you’re ever in the area, I suggest you pop in and get to know the Bay Horse. You won’t regret it.

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You meet the nicest people shooting film. If I had not been shooting a classic film camera, it’s possible we never would have met these wonderful people or have gotten to explore this fantastic part of Cincinnati history.

Be A Decent Human!

My heart hurts for those who lost a loved one as a result of the shooting that took place today at the Fifth Third Building on Fountain Square in Cincinnati.Innocent people lost their lives today for simply being in a particular place at a particular time. This isn’t an unsafe part of town. They shouldn’t have been in danger, but their lives ended today due to the selfish act of others. I will never understand the need for senseless violence and the want or intent of people to cause harm to others.Although a motive may be discovered as a result of the ensuing investigation, the loss of life will never be justified.

I have my opinions on gun control and the necessity of owning or not owning a gun, but will keep those to myself. What I ask of you is simple: BE A DECENT HUMAN BEING AND LOVE YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS. Love them regardless of their race, sexual identity, religion, political views, financial stature, music preference, sports affiliation...whatever. Just love them!  Love, care about, and support each other. After you’re gone, be the kind of person whose love and positivity will be missed.

This is a I photo I took in Fountain Square last April.  I love this city, especially this area. My wife and I visit it frequently.  What happened today won’t change my view of Cincinnati even if it has affected my view on society.

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Ask yourself, what have you done today to improve someone’s life? Have you done anything to diminish someone’s happiness? If so, why? What did you gain? Was it worth it?

The one goal I’ve ever had for my photography is to make others happy. Now, this photo and any of this area will only remind me of the loss that occurred here today.

Fountain Square, Cincinnati.

#erasethehate #loveoneanother #cincinnatistrong #istillbelieveinhumanity #senselessloss #askyourselfwhy #filmphotographyproject #minolta #minoltax370 #bnwphotography #cincinnati #photowalk #photography #filmphotography #istillshootfilm #kodak #kodaktmax100 #35mm #35mmfilm #ohioriver #fountainsquare #rokkorx45mm

It’s been a while...

I started this blog so I would have a place to share my adventures in photography, but it's been a while since I've posted anything. You might assume this is because there have been no adventures, that I have nothing to write about, nothing new to report. But your assumption would be wrong. There have been lots of photographic adventures since my last post, which if memory serves was when I wrote about Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day...in April. 

What adventures, you ask?  Well let's see.

I could write about the vacation my wife and I took in June when we spent a week in Gatlinburg Tennessee.   I carried a few cameras into the mountains with me each day and came home with some great photos. 

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There was also the weekend when I attended the Film Photography Project Walking Workshop in Findlay Ohio.  Not only did I get to meet Michael Raso and "the gang", but I also got to meet Robert Hamm of The Hamm Camera Company (I'm a backer of both of his Kickstarter campaigns), as well as Phil Steblay from The Darkroom Lab.  I also got to hang out with other film photographers who attended the workshop, some of who I have kept in touch with after the workshop and hope to get to shoot with again. 

Photo credit: Robert Hamm

Photo credit: Robert Hamm

I've also acquired about 50,000 additional cameras since April. Well, maybe not 50,000 exactly. It's probably more like 20 or 30, which I'm sure feels like 50,000 to my wife. I've even had the opportunity to shoot a few of them, which I plan to write about in the near future.  

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There's also the film photography photowalk I'm leading in Cincinnati on September 15th.   My first one. To say I'm nervous about it is an understatement. But as of right now, I think it's going to be a pretty small group, which is good. I'm already working on the plans for another in October if this one goes well. Wish me luck!

What else is new?  Oh!  I'm signed up for a darkroom class at my local community college. Class starts in less than three weeks. I'm really excited about getting some time in the darkroom. I've always wanted to learn to make my own prints. We also have to develop a portfolio, which I think will be great for my personal photographic work. Who knows... maybe I'll find out that I really do have a style to my photography. Personally, I think I'm all over the place with it, but we shall see.  

Truth be told, I haven't not written because I don't have anything to write about. I haven't written because I've been so freaking busy, both with photography and with just life in general. I've taken tons of photos, some of which I share on Instagram. But that's easy. It only takes a few minutes to share a picture. Writing a blog post, however, seems to be this huge monumental task to me. And I don't know why. But I DO know that I want to make a concerted effort to write more often, even if no one reads it but me.   

I'll get better about it. I promise. Just hang in there with me. Let's make this a regular thing, yes?

Until next time...

Sam