Once upon a moment, I was wandering through a Croatian fruit & veg market in the city of Split. I was strolling through distracted by which vendor I would buy figs & grapes from. In the market there were random antique carts that were selling random items. Next to the cart that was selling overpriced honey was an antique cart that had a small selection of analogue photography gear. It gathered my divided attention due to my aspirations in photography.
I picked up a Zenit-E which my first thought was “this is sick!” along with “this is heavy as”. I purchased it for $50 – from this moment I became addicted to the procedure of loading the film & shooting without the knowledge of the outcome – it’s the mystery that attracts me! At this stage in my journey, I had ever only shot on digital which I was so lazy to learn the fundamentals. I rarely ever shot manually which was a challenge but overtime I incrementally I learnt how to shoot film.
It took me a while to work out the Helios 44-2 58mm f2 lens the camera came with. At first glance, the aperture size seems to be backwards – for example f/16 is the widest aperture & f/2 has the smallest aperture. To acquire true aperture you have to turn a second aperture ring until everything in the view finder goes completely dark and then the aperture works as it should. It turns out it’s a preset aperture lens – you set the one ring to the aperture you intend to shoot at, then use the other ring to open the aperture to focus. It’s best to google the “preset aperture system” about the lens to completely understand how it works if you own one yourself and can’t make sense of it.
My favourite qualities of the camera and lens are the first of the roll photos it produces and the swirly bokeh effects.
During the 1 year I had spent living in Split, Croatia as a Australian backpacker who was navigating himself through intuition and superstition signs, I had experienced some of my funniest, wildest & dodgiest moments in my life to date.
I am still constantly amused by the fact that we can literally freeze time with the press of an index finger. I flick back to my moments captured on film all the time to remind me of the stimulating and educational times that levelled up my character in this existence.
4 years since purchasing the Zenit-E, I now have 3 other 35mm cameras and a Super 8mm! Probably $10,000 spent on gear, film & developing thus far – I can honestly say I don’t care about the price tags because once I feel the moment I press that shutter button I feel a feeling of desire. I sometimes wonder if I did not buy the film camera on that sunny day in the market – would I have ever had bought a film camera, and would I have ever experienced this feeling?
You can find me on instagram for more film frames – @mynameswutch