For the last 5 months, I’ve been drilling street photography with a 35mm camera. The camera body bouncing up and down on my hip bone felt rhythmic and natural. Drawing the lens to my chest was 1 pull-up in a set of 50 I’d do daily. So when I needed to sell my 35mm I was a bit adrift. I picked up the Mamiya 6, an amazing camera but still a camera I haven’t used since college. A friend of mine handed me a Kentmere 400 roll in passing. I thought I’d burn through it, a $5 roll is bound to give me less than unusable frames right? I got my images scanned through my favorite lab, Nice Film Club, and awaited the results.
I loved the images. The muted tonalities the Kentmere provided helped draw out a stoic yet serene mood in the subject that I don’t know would have been there had I used something more high contrast, like Tri-X 400. Notability that Mamiya glass helped bring this out along with the scan quality. One of the best parts of the lab, Nice Film Club, is that they scan all your rolls at high resolution with the option for 16-bit Tiff Unlock. Their scan quality is the highest I’ve found. When I’m shooting cheaper films with less latitude this quality option is essential and helps pull out all the detail from the photos.
Again, the Kentmere gives the scene this ethereal quality I wasn’t expecting.
As I transitioned environments the mood remained the same. I think there is something really special and underutilized about the square format. It’s a shape everyone can recognize, regardless of whether you are a photographer or not, making it highly excessive to the viewer. Usually, I’d stitch my pictures together based on pictorial and thematic qualities but the square format almost naturally unites them. There’s this seamless thread created, everything enclosed inside a neat box.
I’m so glad I was able to step outside the familiar and shoot with a camera I hadn’t touched in years. Sometimes when your photos feel stale and you need creative inspiration, this kind of thing is the perfect shakeup. I highly recommend trying out Kentmere 400 and getting your photos developed and scanned with Nice Film Club. You can mail your rolls to them from all across the country and the results speak for themselves. My hip will have to adjust to bouncing something heavier now.
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