Analog Photography – Back to the basics

I will be honest with you, I am practising photography, as a hobby, not for a long period of time. I picked up an old Canon EOS 20D with 18-55mm from a colleague just about 4 years ago. That’s where it all started, the first encounter of photography and me. My first lens that I bought was the 50mm F/1.8 and since then I was hooked up.

I started to suck in all the information available on the internet about shutter speed, ISO, aperture, focal length, long exposure and bokeh. After hours of researching and writing it all down, I grabbed the camera and went out to convert the written into an actual photograph.

Later that year I picked up the Canon 70D that allowed me to take better quality pictures and the camera was capable of recording video. Main reason for the upgrade, compared to the old 20D, was the less noisy pictures of the Northern Lights and it is kinda an all round camera.

My 35mm SLR collection so far: Konica Autoreflex T3, Canon AE-1 and Canon AE-1 Program

My 35mm SLR collection so far: Konica Autoreflex T3, Canon AE-1 and Canon AE-1 Program

For some reason, I always wanted to try photography. I remember looking at the photographers or the owners of DSLRs at various locations and dreaming about owning myself of one of those cameras. But being an IT student and spending the money on PC components and other various small electronics, I never had a budget do purchase a DSLR or look deeper in this whole subject.

Well that has changed now, owning decent gear that does not limit me to a specific genre but is capable of delivering high performance in different kind of photography, from Landscape, sports, long exposure to astrophrography (Northern Lights).

Skógafoss - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Skógafoss - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

My heart discovered something new, which is actually not new at all, it’s been there for the last 50-60 years. Its new for me.

My grand grandfather (father of my grandmother) was a painter and a photographer back in the day. My mother and grandmother have told me, that I have my grand grandfathers “eye” of seeing things. Another member of my family, my uncle, was actually doing professional analog photography. He was shooting weddings on 35mm film and was processing it in his own darkroom in his apartment.

I remember that room. My parents dropped me off with my grand grandmother, so she could look after me, while my mother was going to fencing competitions around in Europe. I was very young at that age and I remember how my grand grandmother told me, never to go into that darkroom as I could ruin the photographs. At that point I did not know what or how a photograph was made.

Reynisfjara black beach - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Reynisfjara black beach - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Now, nearly 25 years later, I have some understanding of analog photography and a huge desire to do it and to learn to process the film on my own in a dark room.

I have already started to make the first steps in that direction and it’s like Christmas for me.

Shooting 35mm film is just exciting for me. Picking up one of the old cameras that I have, loading the film into them and going out, taking some time to frame the shot, adjusting the exposure settings (aperture and shutter speed), taking the photograph and writing down the information of location, the settings so I can connect later the photograph to the settings it was taken with (analog book).

And so far, I am having a blast. I am really enjoying shooting film and so far, I am not wasting a lot of shots. I am still learning how the film behaves in different light conditions and how far I can push it, in total just finding the limitations on different type of film.

Edinburgh - Waverley Station - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Edinburgh - Waverley Station - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

I believe, I am doing it wrong. Most older photographers were shooting film and do know how to develop it on their own and have switched to digital just because its faster and more convenient for them to shoot digital.

I am doing it the other way around. Started shooting digital and now discovering the whole topic of analog photography. Main task for this winter, is to start to learn how to process the film on my own the darkroom.

For me, shooting film just feels great. Every time I give a roll of film to the processing, I am like a small child before Christmas, can’t wait to see the results.

Does that mean, that when I will master shooting film and processing it on my own, that I will toss my DSLR to the side and not pick it up again? No, of course not. For me shooting film is like, driving an old-timer on a sunny day for somebody else. Or enjoying whiskey and a cigar with a good book near a fireplace. It’s just something that feels great, it’s something that gives you this specific feeling that you just can’t put in words. You need to try it on your own, or you maybe already have something that gives you this kind of feeling. We do crazy stuff to get our senses stimulated.

Edinburgh Cockburn Street - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Edinburgh Cockburn Street - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

I just can’t wait to get out of Reykjavik, load up some Fujifilm Velvia 50 or 100 into the camera and try shooting that kind of film.

Is film photography dead? Don't ask me, I am just getting started!

Netherurd - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Netherurd - 35mm Canon AE-1 - Kodak Ektar 100

Canon Professional Network – Editor’s Choice 2017 – Public Vote Nomination

To my surprise, I have found out that my picture is nominated, in the category nature and is now online for public voting.

There are 4 different categories for this year’s Editor’s Choice: Nature, Portrait, Sports and Photojournalism.

There are many very good submissions and you should check it out and leave a vote for your favorite:

Canon Professional Network – Editor’s Choice 2017 – Public Vote

Again to my surprise, there are quite a lot of Iceland pictures in Nature category. I can easily spot 3 pictures from Iceland, 2 pictures from Markus van Hauten, ice on the beach probably taken at Jökulsárlón, another picture is the beautiful Vestrahorn.

Another picture from Iceland is taken by Andre Erlich, a beautiful combination of Icelandic lava rocks, hot springs and northern lights. I am not quite sure, but I think this picture was taken at the Blue Lagoon (also on my “to do” list).

I wanted to take some time and write some lines about my submission for this contest. The picture that I have submitted is called “Looking for Þrasi’s chest of gold”.

The idea came in the beginning of January 2016, on my first tour of the year, the South Coast up to Jökulsárlón. We stopped for the night at the famous Skógafoss.

After a nap, to charge the energy for the hunt of Northern Lights at this same location. Unfortunately, Icelandic weather does have its own behavior and was not looking promising, with snow, clouds, hail and strong wind.

Hoping that there will be an opening in the clouds, we still stayed outside and came up with light painting to not waste the time just standing in the cold surrounded by darkness and the strange deep noise of water masses rushing down the hill.

I knew there was a legend about that waterfall and this is how the idea was born: According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door ring is now in a museum.

We had a quite strong light source with us but many different aspects just did not fit to capture good results. But the try gave me an idea of what settings to use and what weather conditions need to be met to capture the picture I wanted.

A month later, another South Coast tour up to Jökulsárlón. We stayed at the same hotel and went to bed to get out again later in the night and try to capture some Northern Lights.

But yet again, the weather was not on our side, sky covered by snow clouds and opening again in 10-15 minutes interval. But this time the moon was out and did share some light on the surroundings of Skógafoss.

Equipped, this time with a much stronger light source, we started to recreate my idea of the past visit. It actually did not take us that long to capture a picture that I had in mind. Main difficult part of this picture was, to try and hit that cloud opening to get the light of the moon and have some snow so it reflects the beam of the light source, a little bit of clear sky above the waterfall AND standing still for a 30 seconds exposure. Try that some time when you are in Iceland with strong winds, standing still for 30 seconds is not that easy.

But enough writing, here is the picture: “Looking for Þrasi’s chest of gold”.

Also, don’t forget to cast your votes for the public vote of CPN Editor’s Choice, there are some really good ones.