Every Christmas I spent time with my parents that still live in a little town called Præstø, where I grew up. It is situated a little under 100 km south of Copenhagen.
I usually spend some extra days there relaxing in my childhood home together with my parents and enjoy all the amazing food served by them. But in order to have room for it all, I usually take my camera with me for a lot of walks around the town. As I grew up there and still visit a number of times during the year, finding new things or angles to photograph can be challenging. This day where these images were taken however the weather handed me a lot of motives on a silver platter. All I had to do was show up.
It has been a little over a year since I (re-)started analog film photography, which I also wrote about here: Restarting Film Photography with an Olympus 35 LC. I am unsure about how many rolls of film I have shot since then, but I think it is somewhere in the 30-50 range. Most of them have been black & white. It has been an interesting journey with lots of ups and downs. I have a lot to learn especially with black & white.
This day I was armed with the color film of choice, Fujicolor C200. It was loaded in the camera that never lets me down, the Nikon FE. After a period of not really falling totally in love with my newly acquired Olympus-35 SP I had loaded the trusty old Nikon, that has given me more keepers and memorable experiences than what my indifference towards it deserves. Like the old pair of sneakers that just sits there, patiently waiting. Not becoming jealous towards the new shiny ones that has come to replace it. Just always there. Always ready to perform.
Up until this point, the day had been steeped in fog. The type of weather that penetrates walls and wraps around you on the couch comforting you and ensuring that no events will unfold outside so staying wrapped up on the couch is the only rational choice.
But suddenly, with only and hour or so until the so far unsighted sun would set, it started to win some ground on the fog. I knew this was my cue.
So I flew out of the couch – or okay I rolled – but I had a sense of urgency as I knew the light could not be there for too long and I had about 15-20 minutes of walking to where I wanted to take pictures. It is a little old fishers harbor in Præstø, called Jacobshavn. I have been there numerous times to take pictures but never really nailed it no matter the season. But while I put on my new boots gifted to me by my girlfriend for Christmas I had a hunch that this could be good.
Sometimes the feeling is just there. Halfway on the way to Jacobshavn I caught this scene with two benches by the sea. Normally you would be able to see other parts of Præstø in the background like the city church. But because of the thickness of the fog none of this was visible. The scene was so serene.
For some reason I have an easier time focusing with the Nikon SLR in the cold than my rangefinders. It never fogs and I find it as easy as in warm weather. Strange observation – I know.
As I got to Jacobshavn I was met with total silence. There was no one there and if there would have been any background noises anywhere then they were muffled by the thick fog. It was very serene and very beautiful. Breaking the silence with the sound of the Nikon FE shutter I took this image of a bridge leading out into the abyss. Normally it would have been possible to see a church and a part of the city in the background.
Walking out onto the bridge hearing a combination of snow cracking and the wood squeaking I cross my fingers that one of my first walks with my new boots won’t suddenly find me submerging them in ice cold water. The bridge luckily kept my boots out of the water. And I could turn around at the end of it and snap this image of the little harbor.
The next one here is one of my favorites from the set. I was looking for color and objects that could be framed without too much distraction around them. I spotted this boat and even though there are boats to the left of it, their lack of color diminishes the distraction. A big plus was that the boat had “Præstø” written on it. It was difficult to frame the entire boat and not have any of it being cut of. I was glad that I had the Nikon where I can frame very precisely and not one of my rangefinders.
I cannot remember the scene well enough to argue whether I should have moved the frame slightly to the left to give less room between the boat and the frame on the right. But perhaps I was also trying to leave out some distraction to the left as well. Nevertheless I am extremely pleased with how this turned out. I think the colors of C200 is nothing short of brilliant for this scene.
Walking in between the small cottages that are closed off and empty this time of year I captured this image. The item on the right is a winch to pull boats up on land.
Further down the road, almost as a way of convincing people that this place still has active fishermen, these nets hang out in the open. Again with the background covered in thick fog it is almost handed on a silver platter for me. But the rendering and sharpness of the Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens really topped it off.
The serene hunting boat
And then suddenly this scene opened up in front of me. This small little hunting boat with the disassembled bridge in the background. It was just the perfect subject and frame. Normally I only take one shot of each frame on film. But this one I took a few extra. I really, really wished one of them would come close to represent the serenity and beauty of what was in front of me. I even took out my phone to take a few pictures. So no matter what happened I would have it captured.
I do however wish that I took a few more in the “portrait” mode as I would have like one where I was a few steps further back. But I am more than pleased with the ones I got. Both the camera and film really delivered! A fun little anecdote is that I shared the pictures on my Facebook account and it turned out that I actually knew the guy that own the boat. There is a lot of charm in small towns and communities.
If I was a proper writer, then I would probably have ended with the ones above in true style of “saving the best for last”. But in keeping with the chronology I will share two more pictures that I got afterwards.
The temperature was below zero (Celsius). This meant I could walk along the water line where it would otherwise have been too muddy for my new boots. A little bit further I found this boat. It really stood out with its colors against the muted palette of its surroundings.
Right before the water stopped me from going any further I found this little bridge which was disassembled for the winter. Just a simple serene scene, which probably also would have worked just as well without the fog.
Walking back the same way as I came the sun almost broke through the fog revealing this beautiful scene.
I am so happy that the camera I brought along this day was the trusty old Nikon FE and C200. Sure I would have gotten good pictures no matter what. But with this camera in hand I trusted it way more and could just focus on enjoying the experience.
This roll of film is the absolute best I have ever shot. It is just hard to beat good scenery and lighting. In one way it reminds me how important light is for the image. How important it is to wait for the perfect light as it makes or breaks the final image. But on the other hand, focusing only on the end result, is not why I am into photography. I enjoy the process. I enjoy walking around “seeing” in compositions no matter how the light is. It makes me relax. Takes me away from a computer and out into the world to explore and observe with intent and curiosity. Good end results are just the cherries on the top.
Now that I have convinced myself that I already have all the cameras I need. I can finally bury the thought and hunger for shiny new cameras. Now I only need to decide whether the next camera I do not need should be a medium format film camera (Hasselblad 500c or Minolta Autocord) or a Fujifilm X-Pro 3 to replace my X-T2.