|An issue with my camera’s film advance is likely what lead to this partial double exposure – a small gift from the universe.|
There are a lot of reasons to love shooting film: the look of the medium, the organic nature of the process, the preciousness of each frame, the plethora of cool cameras to choose from and outright nostalgia, just to name a handful. But for me, the prevalence of ‘the happy accident’ might be my favorite.
Double exposed frames, weird light leaks, color shifts from aging, misaligned frame advances, these all can be happy accidents
Double exposures, weird light leaks, color shifts from aging, misaligned frame advances – these all can be happy accidents. And though there’s a lengthy list of apps for your smart device that try to mimic these serendipitous occurrences, they can’t touch the magic of a truly unintended joyous mishap.
|Sure you can add a ‘light leak’ to your photos via various apps, but where’s the fun in that?|
Of course, with the good comes the bad and in time, even the most meticulous analog shooters will eventually feel the heartache that results from something going wrong, or even worse – the ‘lost roll.’ But this is something we film nerds have learned to accept: sometimes the universe adds a gentle touch to your photos, sometimes it takes them away completely. It’s an agreement with the unknown that can often lead to a better appreciation of the medium.
This is something we film nerds have learned to accept: sometimes the universe adds a gentle touch to your photos, sometimes it takes them away completely
In the digital era, this idea of giving up some control has been completely thrown out the window. And that’s ok! I still spend more time behind a digital camera than a film one: the latter is more about pleasure while the former is more about executing a vision (often for work). Digital cameras have made it amazingly simple to create an image exactly as intended while significantly lowering the possibility of ‘unknowns’ and/or errors. And for working photographers, they offer obvious advantages over film.
|An unintended double exposure of a wrestler and the Seattle skyline.|
But there’s an unfortunate side to the inherent pursuit of perfection that comes with the digital medium: an apprehensiveness about sharing or publishing anything not executed ‘flawlessly’. More specifically, with film, I’m willing to take a shot, even if I know the exposure may not be ideal or the focus may be off. With digital, I’m less likely to take that same shot.
There’s an unfortunate side to the inherent pursuit of perfection that comes with the digital medium: an apprehensiveness to shoot/publish anything not executed ‘flawlessly’
For example, I was recently enjoying some time on the docks near Seattle’s famed houseboats. The sun had set and we were taking in the (illegal) amateur firework displays on the banks of Lake Union. I had my trusty Canon A-E1 with me and quietly enjoyed snapping away the last 8 frames on my roll of Kodak Gold 400. Though I knew my 1/15 sec and 1/8 sec shutters speeds would likely be too slow to capture a sharp image, I didn’t worry. After all, I’d had a few beers and was shooting from a floating dock, so a little blur felt honest to the moment.
|I don’t know if this image was the result of a frame advance issue or a scanning error but I like it.|
Later that night, I thought to myself, ‘If I had a digital camera with me, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered taking any shots.” Why not? Because in my mind, there’s something more acceptable about a blurry film photo compared to a blurry digital one. Perhaps the time I’ve spent spent shooting digital has conditioned me to subconsciously turn up my nose at the concept of a digital image that isn’t ‘perfect’. And I’m guessing other digital shooters occasionally succumb to this unfortunate state of mind too.
Thankfully, when I feel digital photography is turning me into a control freak, I simply grab a film camera and accept that the universe and I will be sharing ‘the wheel’
Thankfully, when I feel digital photography is turning me into a control freak, I simply grab a film camera and accept that the universe and I will be sharing ‘the wheel’. There’s truly something refreshing, not to mention fun, about surrendering just a little bit of control to the unknown.
So if you’re currently feeling a bit burnt out by the digital medium, I implore you: pick up a cheap film camera and some drug/grocery store film, and let the happy accidents find you! You’ll be glad you did.
|I’m not really sure what happened here, but it sure looks cool!|