B&W portrait

2018: On Reflection, Part Four

2018 was the year I dove back into Photography in a big way. That isn’t to say I had stopped completely, but 2018 was definitely the year when I said, “LET’S DO THIS!”

I listened to all the podcasts (Sunny 16 and Analog Talk are my favourites). I took my camera (or more accurately, cameras) almost everywhere and I started this blog/ website/ photography archive. I backed a bunch of photography related things on Kickstarter including (but not limited to) PhotoKlassik International Magazine and PinBox by Hamm Camera Company. I even signed up to an after work college course (which didn’t happen because not enough people signed up to it).

Why reflect?

I want to improve my skills and stay motivated. There are lots of ways I could do this, I could obviously just keep getting outside with my camera. But I feel like without some reflection on my previous year in photography I won’t be able to decide what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I enjoyed and what felt like a chore. Without taking the time to analyse these things, how am I going to actually improve?

Part four is my conclusion. I will summarise my takeaways from 2018 as well as decide what my objectives for 2019 are and if there are challenges, how to overcome them. If you missed the previous parts to this 2018 reflection you can find them on the below links.

Part One: Film Choices
Part Two: Camera Choices
Part Three: Favourite Photos of 2018

Takeaways from 2018

Favourite Gear & Film

I now have a list of favourite films and cameras so this is a good start. I often find deciding which camera to shoot with is half the battle. Now I can say for 2019, I will be only using these cameras – I will definitely use films other than my favourites because I am not even halfway through exploring all the available films out there. Who knows, maybe next year I will have a new set of favourites.

120 Colour Film: Kodak Portra 400
120 Black & White Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
35mm Colour Film: FujiFilm Superia X-Tra 400
35mm Black & White Film: Ilford HP5

35mm Camera: Pentax ME Super
120mm Camera: My newly purchased Pentax 645.

Favourite Standard Lens: SMC Pentax-M 50mm 1:1.7
Favourite Wide Lens: SMC Pentax-M 28mm 1:2.8
Favourite Telephoto: SMC Pentax-M 200mm 1:4

Don’t get distracted with G.A.S

I think this is an important one for me. I really love buying things, especially new camera things. I need to put in the extra effort to resist the pull of new shiny cameras and lenses. The only reason I will allow myself to buy a new camera is if my Pentax ME Super dies. Otherwise, I feel I have plenty to get on with.

More of what I enjoy

I enjoy taking photos of nature and landscapes. I find it very calming to be somewhere quiet and remote, especially when compared to being in a city. I am a keen cyclist so being able to cycle somewhere to take photos is important to me as well. I don’t like to carry too much kit around if I am on my bike and this is partly why I don’t actually do much landscape photography. I dislike having to carry my tripod if I am on a bike. Finding new places to take photos via bus is a must for venturing out with my Pentax 645.

Strategy for 2019/20

My goal for 2019 is to improve my photography. I have set myself four objectives that I believe will help me achieve my goal for 2019 (& 2020 because we are pretty much halfway through 2019 already!). I think they are quite simple and thus should be easy for me to achieve. I don’t like to set myself big tasks because in the likelihood that I don’t manage to complete them I feel like a failure.

1. Take photos all year round, not just when it is dry outside. I worry that my equipment will be ruined by the weather. I recently got myself a proper camera bag with a waterproof cover, I still need to get something waterproof for the camera when it is outside of the bag. If you have any tips, let me know!

2. Join a photography club. There are a few photo groups around that I could join in with. The challenge is figuring out how to balance it with my day job. I tend to work too late to make any of the local meetings. But it would be nice to meet like-minded people that I can syphon information from!

3. Go on Photo Walks. This is something I see people saying all the time. I get the feeling that in London there are groups of people that go for photo walks together. I have made a list of places to find photo opportunities around where I live; forests, parks, cemeteries. I am going to actively make an effort to hike around or cycle to places where I can take photos of things I don’t see every day in the city.

4. Get to know my films and cameras better. Ilford HP5 is great because of its ability to be pushed and pulled beyond box speed (so I am told). I want to experiment with this and see what kind results I get. I will also do this with Portra as I have heard that overexposing it gives it the nice pastel tones.

My new Pentax 645 is a great camera, I want to see what kinds of images I can get from it, and discover what kinds of photography I like to use it for. I imagine that it will make a great portrait or landscape photography camera.

Further Research Needed

I would like to look into developing negatives at home. This is something I am sure will save money in the long run and help me with the entire process of photography. If I know how my actions in-camera effect the developed negative, that will change the way I expose?

I think I spent around £250-£300 on developing, scanning and printing photos in 2018. I have worked out that unless I buy a scanner along with home developing, I won’t actually save any money. So it seems it is all or nothing.

Further research is needed but this is something I think I should try and work into my photography workflow. It might just have to wait until the tail end of 2019.

Your Turn

I would love to hear from you and your experiences with film photography.
What motivates you to take photos?
Have you got a favourite style of photography and is this different from the style you practise?
Do you have a favourite photo walk?
What are your favourite films and cameras?
How do you deal with extreme weather situations? (Hot, Cold, Rainy)

Thanks for reading, especially if you read all four parts to this series. Stick around to see how I get on with these objectives I have set myself and please, if you have any tips you can share then do. I would love to hear from you.

6 Comments

  1. I enjoy going out for photowalks with my photobuddies, good excuse to visit coffee bars and its really interesting to see how my friends approach taking images. I tend to buy whatever colour film is cheapest, but I must give Porta a try. For B&W I really like TriX and Rollei Superpan, but it’s an absolute B to load on the film developing spiral. My favourite films from the past were Kodak Elitechrome 200 and Konica ir750 infrared, sadly neither is made any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was talking to someone the other day that said there aren’t actually any real infrared films being made anymore. I didn’t realise that Rollei Infrared wasn’t ‘real’ infrared film.

      The Rollei RPX 400 I used in my medium format camera came out so nice I want to try more. Is Rollei Superpan a fine grain film? Is it medium format in general, or Rollei that is hard to load on the developing spiral? I have only loaded 35mm on one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rollei Superpan is coated onto a very thin base so the spiral has to be bone dry, it comes in 35mm and 120 and gives quite a passable infrared impersonation with an R72 filter, red works quite well too. The other Rollei films load really easily.

        Like

  2. Good summary of your thoughts and work for 2018. Having been the president of a local photography club, I have some “advice,” or really a recommendation that comes from my experience. Join a club that a) encourages or embraces your desire to shoot film (no digital snobs), and b) helps push you to achieve the goals you have with photography.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tip. I think it’s good advice. I must admit I was put off by some of the club’s out there that have a lot of digital members. It’s just not the same medium/ art form. In terms of learning more about composition I don’t imagine it would make much difference. This is why I’m still on the fence about it.

      Like

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