I recently spent some time in Amsterdam, nothing work related just a short escape from the city. I was joined with fellow photographer David Babaian which was great because I hate travelling alone. During my time there I walked around most of the city, exploring the various avenues and canals for potential photographs.
I was shooting at the time on my Minolta XD and Leica M4, although I ended up using the XD for the majority of the time due to having loaded the M4 with slow speed film which wasn’t suited to the low light environment.
However I didn’t realise that my exposure compensation lever was stuck at minus one, meaning that my 400 speed I had rated at 800 was actually being exposed at 1600.
I shot a few rolls through the Minolta and only one through the M4, so when I came to review my images I was appalled to learn my mistake. I had very few useable results overall which is a shame because I really did manage to catch some gems while I was there.
On our last night David and I met with a Netherlands based photographer Bas Hordijk, who has an exceptionally quick approach to framing and capturing his street scenes. Wandering around with him I shot some great images through restaurant windows, across the canal of a biker who’s umbrella matched closely with the scenery, and a few atmospheric rainy images.
All were lost due to my incompetence and sheer stupidity through not thinking to check my exposure settings against anything the others were shooting. I blindly trusted my meter and was heartbroken at the result.
However I think this story is important to share even without a decent set of images to accompany it. I often write about my successes and accomplishments with analog film – which even after a few months is a new and evolving medium for my photography. This failure/series of failures is a good balance to that success, which is often not seen or shared by photographers who would rather focus on their highlights, only revealing to the world their absolute best work, which can sometimes misrepresent the number of missed or broken frames along the way.
I think it’s good to remember that no one starts out with their life’s work in hand; that every photograph must be earned through trial and error, whether that occurs as practice beforehand or failure in the field.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the images in this article which did turn out correctly exposed. If you enjoy my work here then please consider following my instagram, or heading over to my personal blog where you can read more of my thoughts and stories about my photography.
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