As we approach the end of the year, and nights draw in closer, and colder, I’m taking the opportunity to go through my archive of photographs, in order to start curating them into some form of order. 2019 has been my first serious year for film photography, having settled into my gear and workflow. I’ve been shooting exclusively film for my personal, street, and journalistic work.
The more I shoot the more mistakes I make, the more lessons I learn, the better the work I produce next becomes. I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made both in my understanding of the film process and the improvements to my style and approach when actually shooting.
In film photography I can’t simply delete my failures, they exist next to my best images, on the same negative strip, side by side. I can’t look at one without seeing the other. This means I am constantly reminded of areas I can improve, especially when it comes to technical aspects.
I’ve always been happy to share my failures, but it’s interesting in a piece like this to see the diversity of the sort of mistakes, whether through a shortcoming of knowledge or simple slip-ups. After all, to shamelessly paraphrase Anna Karenina: every well exposed image is the same, but every mistake is made differently!
I have far more than these examples of my failures, but the “5 Frames With” format works excellently for making a point succinctly, so have included only a handful – I selected images which I think have some kind of artistic merit despite the obvious mistake.
Underexposed long exposure – totally losing the detail of the train rushing past on the lower half of the frame. Needed to be at about 1/4ths, instead I metered at 1/15ths – however this was on JCH Street Pan, which I think let me down on a few exposures.
Cinestill 800 on my M4. This one was an absolute beginner move, it was the last shot of the roll and I opened the back of the camera, eager to load the next, while totally forgetting to rewind this one! Luckily only this and a couple of other frames were affected, the rest of the shots were clean. This was the closing fireworks display at Green Man Festival, 2018.
This frame was the first of the roll, again loaded in a high pressure environment and I wanted to take this immediately. If I’d wound on properly and “wasted” the 00 frames then this would be a neat row of Officers – instead it’s only the one at the end. Delta 100.
I’m still not sure what went wrong with this shot. Again, Cinestill 800, and taken on my F3 while in Iceland in January. I was on Langjökull Glacier, which at its highest point is 1480m above sea level. I’ve read that elevation, or icy conditions can cause electrical discharge, but I’ve never seen these weird circular patterns appearing across a frame. The grain is also very odd, and a shame as the images not taken on the glacier on the same roll were clean in comparison.