Like most Architecture students at UTA, I took photography. Back then it was a still photography. I spent both many hours in a dark room and a lot of money for the supplies. After graduating, I rarely took photos.
In 2006, one of my friends introduced me to Flickr, which is an image-hosting website and online community owned by Yahoo! It is a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs. I casually joined and got myself a DSLR.
To my surprise Flickr turned out to be a very supportive community. It is basically a social network for advanced photography enthusiasts. There are various groups not only to share photos but take a part in discussions. Some of the groups are used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. I have had numerous photos featured in the NPR picture show, Art&Seek by KERA, and archidose by John Hill, which is a popular architecture blog site.
Originally I never liked the idea of switching to digital in spite of how convenient it is. The result was never same. Besides, I realized that the most beautiful digital photos on Flickr were the ones in which the photographer spent a lot of time on Photoshop trying to not make it look like a digital photo. The quality of image, depth of colors, or just the mood the film image creates is far superior to digital. I have come across so many captivating inspirational photos by film cameras on Flickr that it gave me an analog aspiration. I now own a few medium-format film cameras.
Medium-format is a film size. The film format is called 120 (60mm wide) and it is a rolled film. The brand names — Kodak, Ilford, Fuji , Lomography — can still be purchased online. In Dallas, a couple of stores still develop medium-format films.
I purchased a used Hasselblad 500C/M from a local photographer, who switched to digital. It came with the body, film back and 80mm lens. Hasselblad is made in Sweden using a German-made Carl Zeiss lens, which is widely used by professionals. Perhaps the most famous use of the Hasselblad camera was during the Apollo mission, when man first landed on the Moon. What I like about this camera is not only the exquisite design of body, superb optics, large viewfinder, and loud shutter sound but also the particular the shallow depth of field. The soft focus gives the images an ethereal feel.
My Holga is pretty much opposite. It is a well known as a toy camera, with a plastic body and plastic lens made in China. It is simple to use, the shutter speed is fixed, it has one effective aperture, and basic focus. The images are unpredictable until I develop the film. The aesthetics of cheap plastic construction fail in many areas.
On this black and white image of my daughter taken at the Modern in Ft Worth, I have a missing area on upper right corner because of the light leak.
The images display a vignette, blur, light leak and other distortions. This is typical characteristics of the toy camera. Then again I love how the image appears to look a lot like an old, restored photo.
This is a color image of a sculpture called “Walking to the Sky” by Jonathan Borofsky at the Nasher Sculpture Center. It was such a sunny day. Light leaked from the back of a red window, giving the image a surreal look.
I occasionally use a texture merged with a digital photo to express a different feel.
I recently bought a Holga wide-angle pinhole camera. The size of film doubles to 12×6. The look is timeless.
Double exposures or any number of exposures can be done.
Actually, this was a happy accident. I did not know until I developed the film. Working with film creates both anticipation and unreliability. Those problems became a virtue for me.
Since I wasn’t familiar with the medium-format cameras, Flickr was my source and inspiration. I increased friends through Flickr all over the world, including from my home country Japan. If any of you would like to see those cameras, film or print out, just let me know and I would be happy to show you.
POSTED BY: Masako Fujinami