The Whole Roll

25 Frames / A Whole Roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 in a Canon Snappy LXII – #FullRollFriday – by David Hume.

April 24, 2020

OK – here’s my #fullrollfriday. I love this concept. There’s so much to think about. Why do we make photos? What is our intent?

How do we gauge the success of an image? Is it tied purely to purpose, or can we hope for something that lies beyond the specific and is universal?

All that stuff and more went through my mind as I read the first post in the #FullRollFriday series.

So – I jumped in to my LR catalogue and had a look. I decided to stay away from the pretentious shit and leap in with a roll of good old-fashioned snapshots. Like in the olden days. It’s a holiday – buy a roll of film and away we go! This roll records the time I went away for a long weekend and shot one roll as a record of my trip.

The camera: a $5 op-shop Canon Snappy LXII. Fixed focus 35mm f4.5 lens Shutter speeds 1/45 to 1/200 Auto DX of 100 and 400. I recall I had just found this at the shop near where I live – so it’s also the first roll with this camera. It’s actually a pretty usable camera for this sort of thing. I liked it because the viewfinder is huge, because  it’s easy to switch off the flash, and it takes AAs. After this trip I modified it so it now shoots 24mmx24mm.

The film: Kodak GC 400 (Ultramax) 24 Exposures (Cheap as). I guess I didn’t want to waste a roll of Portra in an untested camera, but I never buy 24 exp. rolls except by mistake.

So as well as testing out the camera, I had in mind I would record my trip and tell the story of my long weekend in a photo essay. (Which I did – there’s a link to the essay at the end so you can see which shots I used for that)

In September 2018 I put my bike in the van and drove by myself up to Ikara/Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. It’s about 450km from where I live. The plan was to stay in the van and do day-rides on dirt roads and fire trails in the Flinders.

Let’s Go!

Dud. Still in the farming lands. Shot from the window. The sky looked interesting though – anything that looks like it might rain is a novelty.

And South Australia is FLAT. We call hills like this  Ranges. Here I’m still perfecting the “shoot out of the out-of-van-window-while-driving” method. Safety first – results second.

I was liking the sky here. Nice bit of motion blur from the window AND I got the horizon level.

Dud. It was an interesting view from the window but a dud shot.

Nothing to see here. But still;  gotta love a window shot from a moving vehicle eh? It’s how we say #roadtrip.

And this sort of counts as the Flinders. I thought it would rain later so I got a safety shot.

This is a well-known view near Ikara/Wilpena Pound. I’ve shot it many times but never with low cloud before.

Ho Hum. Overshooting.

Same spot but this is actually next morning. I guess I figured if I’d walked up at sunrise I should make a frame. Wrong.

Overshot.

AND THEN  it started raining.

So I walked up to the Pound – which is beautiful, but not so much in the rain.

These shots make a little more sense if you realise that it never rains up here so I was pretty pleased to see it.

At sunset that evening the light was stunning.

I didn’t need to shoot this – I thought the light was changing, but it was not enough to make a difference to the shot.

Safety shot because the sun came out and I thought at f 4.5 1/45  maybe I’d be underexposed in the previous shot.

Next morning it was dry. This is the Pound again, except this time you can see it.

More Wilpena Pound. Pretty lucky to get those clouds.

So that day I decided to try a ride on my bike. A bit dicey because the dirt tracks turn to mud in the wet, but I was lucky.

I’d just ridden my bike up this hill. It’s a pretty cliched view actually – but for a reason.

I had a great day on the bike – partly because the rain meant the roads were closed and there were no 4WDs. About 60km on roads like this.

Next day I sat in the van drinking red wine and reading my novel. Then it was sunny in the arvo so I went for another ride. This is a beautiful 50km loop that I’ve done a few times.

Well – that was fun. What did I learn from this? For one thing I overshot! Initially I thought this was quite a tight roll – but there’s still too much crap on it.

On the other hand, it’s a roll that did what it set out to do. I’d have to say that in all honesty I’m pretty happy to have used a 24 roll on a cheap compact to tell a story. I think I only realised while going through this process that in retrospect I actually had a plan.

The plan was to make a story for a very specific audience. There’s a bunch of people who like riding their bikes on these trails in the Flinders, and this is for them.

I’m guessing people living in the UK might find rain a bit mundane, but over here, rain is a big deal. It’s rare, and if it rains it’s usually a boggy mess up there, so to be able to do what I did is a bit of a treat.

As I mentioned at the start, I also made a photo essay for my bike buddies. If you want to see how I used this roll in that essay, and which shots I picked –  here it is.

What I continue to learn is the importance of having a specific intent when going out shooting. I’ve been shooting for ages but I’m only just starting to understand this. Maybe now I’m getting confident enough in my skill and and aesthetic that I can begin to think about how I actually want to USE  what I know to try and get a meaningful result. On the other hand there is no skill at all in using a Canon Snappy LXII (bless it). It’s the whole point of the camera! Bear in mind too that this was 18 months ago, and I think I was on a bit of a wank at this point about deep observation and only shooting what you know. Making it true and good in some sort of Hemingway/Cezanne pastiche.

Anyway, I’ve certainly learned a lot just in the past couple of years, and I must say that engaging with a bunch of like-minded folks and knocking ideas around is a big part of it. So – keep contributing everyone!

 

 

 

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Eric Norris
    April 24, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Nice shots! As a Californian, it’s fun to see eucalyptus trees in their natural habitat (they’re everywhere here).

    I have a $5 Ricoh point-and-shoot that I found at an estate sale (not sure if that’s the term in Australia–basically selling off the worldly goods of a deceased person) that’s a lot of fun to shoot. I can go through a roll pretty quickly by just clicking away and not thinking too much.

    • Reply
      David Hume
      April 25, 2020 at 7:24 am

      Thanks – what’s really odd as an Aussie is coming across eucalypts while travelling. My wife and I were bike touring in Spain and rode through a grove; the smell of home in another country was uncanny.

  • Reply
    Richard
    April 24, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    As technically amazing as SLRs are, compacts and similar cheap/simple cameras are incredible enjoyable to me. I bought a Minolta Hi-Matic GF (fixed 1/100 shutter, 38mm guess focus, 3 stops f/4-8-16) not too long ago, and I didn’t really have high hopes for it. But I got the roll back and the photos are just neat. Something about the way I shot with it reflects the low-key nature of the camera, and the lens renders super nicely. Your shots seem to have something similar 🙂

    • Reply
      David Hume
      April 25, 2020 at 7:28 am

      Yeah – for this type of shot they are great. The lens will be just fine, focus isn’t an issue, and the exposure will be okay too. Maybe the camera being so simple just takes it out of the equation and lets you see the landscape more?

  • Reply
    jeremystrange
    April 25, 2020 at 2:29 am

    Nice work David. I particularly like the first few shots and the sunset ones. I love photos that have minimal (or no) people in them, and I enjoyed the lower contrast overall. The images reminded me of rural Victoria and NSW. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed that.
    Jem

    • Reply
      David Hume
      April 25, 2020 at 7:35 am

      Thanks Jem – yeah I remember climbing that hill at dusk and thinking “Oh boy!” We’re lucky in Oz that we can so easily find a place without another person in it. “How’s the serenity?”

  • Reply
    nicholashclark
    April 25, 2020 at 7:03 am

    Perhaps it’s just my kind of style, but I really liked a few of the ‘duds’ and ‘overshoots’!

  • Reply
    David Hume
    April 25, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Yeah it’s interesting; I actually like the blurry-tilty-red-dirt shot, but maybe didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t trying to tilt it? And it’s easy to be wise after and say “Oh. I didn’t need to shoot that” when you have the roll back and see what else you’ve got. I guess if my goal was to use the roll in the best way over the trip I did okay. And when I checked again I did use some of the overshoots in my photo-essay.

  • Reply
    ºColor-Solinarº
    April 27, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Whew….these are really good David. The shot with the tree trunk framed on the left is wonderfully detailed for a fixed focus camera. This makes me want to get in on the cheap point and shoot craze.

    • Reply
      David Hume
      April 27, 2020 at 4:18 am

      Thanks – and yeah, for this type of shot they’re great. Of course there’s lots of stuff they CAN’T do – but I reckon if you work within their sweet-spots they are are good fun. IMHO the fancy ones don’t really do much more (AF only gives you another foot of range for example) I’ve got a few with varying levels of sophistication. I really don’t like the zooms though – really slow lenses and the zooming viewfinders are generally horrid (to my eye) But, yep, a nice simple prime – sweet.

  • Reply
    Charles Higham
    April 27, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    I do like these photos. They really capture a sense of the changing landscape very successfully. Not a bad lens on that Canon Snappy either.

    • Reply
      David Hume
      April 27, 2020 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks – Yeah the lens is pretty good, hey. Just had a bit of a closer look and I think it’s three elements. And quite a lot of glass there for s 4.5 it seems.

  • Reply
    Tim Carlson
    May 1, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Wonderful shots and a great way to document a weekend. I have an Canon AF-10 (very similar design but 26mm f6 lens) and tend to do the same when I travel. Out of curiosity, how did you modify the Snappy? And where can we see some of those shots?

  • Reply
    David Hume
    May 4, 2020 at 5:36 am

    Hi Tim . It was a very unsophisticated mod – I just glued little plastic flags inside it to mask out the film, so I still only got 36 frames. (I have a pic of that somewhere…) I am into square frames and at that point I was being a bit purist and not cropping. For some reason my replies were not showing up, and maybe it’s because I put a link in? Not sure, but I tried emailing you a link. that shows one of the square shots. Cheers.

    • Reply
      Tim Carlson
      May 7, 2020 at 3:00 am

      Thanks for the reply David. Was hoping for some kind of magic “this thing now shoots 54 frames per roll.” But, still, taking out the vignetting and corner softness of a point and shoot, focusing the viewer onto the sharp center is a great idea. Kind of similar to the old prints that were 4/3 instead of 3/2. Still would love to see a shot if you can find a way to send it or post it. Again THANKS!!

      • Reply
        David Hume
        May 7, 2020 at 4:42 am

        No worries Tim. I’ve worked out that indeed you can’t put a link in a comment – WordPress just eats the whole comment and doesn’t tell you. But if you go to my website the first Blog Post is called “I and the Beach”, and about halfway through it there’s a square shot with a black strip down the right edge that is from the Canon. I used the camera for a project called “On the Beach” where I shot a roll from the same spot on the beach over about two weeks. That will be part of an exhibition later in the year (if the world has not ended).

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