For a few months I thought about selling my Pentax K1000. The mirror was sticky, it needed new seals, plus we really, really needed the money.
But then I realized…my Pentax is the only one of my film cameras I can freelens with.
I have only one other film SLR: the Canon EOS Rebel T2, but it refuses to take pictures without a lens attached. Even in manual mode, the mode where I’m supposed to be in charge.
So I sold my speedlight instead, then sent out my Pentax to have the seals replaced and the shutter looked at, and I came home from Cedar Point to a box on my counter. I quickly tore off the tape, loaded the camera with some HP5 and immediately began to marvel at the dreamy world beyond my viewfinder. Moving the 50mm up and down and this way and that way, I felt a calm I haven’t felt since I first plunged into film.
I was me.
I’ve been freelensing since 2015, so I often forget that it’s still not a well-known craft. I find myself talking about it casually with friends and fellow photographers, only to stop short when I notice their blank stares.
But freelensing has changed my photography so much since I first learned about it from another photographer, so I feel a strong desire to spread the word. Freelensing rocks, and EVERYONE should give it a try at least once.
Assuming you’re in for the risk…
Ah, the Leica M3. What can I say about this camera? Sadly, not a whole lot.
Truth is, I don’t know much about this camera, and it showed in my first roll. Or lack thereof. Because there was nothing on the first roll.
Or the second roll, for that matter.
I think the Rolleiflex is the funnest camera I’ve ever had in my possession. The waist-level finder is so cool, and bringing it up to my eye to focus is even more visually intriguing than freelensing. The world is placed into a box, is given a vignette, is blurred around the edges.
I wasn’t taking pictures of the beach of Lake Erie. No. I was taking pictures of how the Rolleiflex was interpreting the entire evening.
My husband bought me a Canonet as a Christmas present in 2011. I wanted a small, vintage camera that I could tinker with and carry around with me when I needed an artistic nudge. At the time I was still using all of my cameras on auto (I know…bad Lina) and I had no idea how to use this thing.
It only added to the intrigue, really.
Sadly, I was only able to get about one good roll before the shutter button stopped working (on my 25th birthday…while on vacation in Chicago).
I was brokenhearted, but after calling around we realized it was going to cost more to repair the Canonet than what my husband paid for it. I sighed, placed it on the shelf with my other cameras, and figured it was over. Occasionally I would lift the camera and make a pouty face, sigh again, and return it to its place.
Goodbye Canonet….or so I thought.
I recently got my Canonet QL17 GIII fixed (YAY!) and also bought some batteries for my Canon EOS Rebel T2, which means I’ve been living in film-land for the past week or so. Still, despite my excitement, I didn’t finish my first roll–a roll of FP4 that had been sitting in my Rebel since the battery died eons ago–until over the weekend when we went to Graham Cave.
With my LegacyPro Eco-Pro still on its way, I figured I’d just sit and twiddle my thumbs over a growing pile of used film until it arrived. But last night I couldn’t take it anymore. I had the tools to make caffenol, and after a quick trip to GNC to get some real vitamin C powder, I pulled on some rubber gloves and located the CM-RS recipe in the Caffenol Cookbook.
I’ve been contemplating developing my own film for some time (years). It’s cheaper than sending it in, and would give me a more hands-on experience with photography. Merely uploading and editing has started to lose its pizzazz.
So, last Saturday I decided to just go for it. I bought a two-reel tank and the ingredients for caffenol. For those who don’t know, a recipe usually calls for washing soda, iodized salt, vitamin C crystals, and the best ingredient of all, coffee.
Monochrome for a Month was a challenge I gave myself so that I would be forced to overlook color when shooting. I love black and white photography and it used to be my go-to edit, but during 2016 I went through a color phase. B&W became something mundane and drab. I shrugged at photos that used to invoke inspiration, and I ignored most of the Lightroom presets I’d made the previous year and instead created a whole list of new ones with cool-toned hues and mattes.
Then, at the end of March, I went to the zoo and decided to shoot in monochrome when I reached the zebras. Seeing their stripes and tweaking the settings to make them the most invasive pattern on the LCD display, I began to experiment with the other animals and their unique textures and patterns. I spent the entire day shooting in monochrome and my love for black and white was rekindled.
So, I decided to forgo color for the entire month of April to re-acquaint (hopefully) myself with what drew me to B&W photography in the first place.
Freelensing was first introduced to me over two years ago on a photography forum I belong to. Someone shared her experience of experimenting with detaching her lens to take pictures, and I marveled at what she came up with. The works were dreamy, flawed, blurry, photographic prose. I immediately grabbed my Nikon to try it out.
But…it didn’t work. I couldn’t see through the viewfinder, and only saw a black screen when I pressed the shutter button. What was going on?
Snickering and making married-couple jokes, Chris and I should have expected an adventure, but I wasn’t aware just how elaborate some of the trails were at the nearby hiking ground. It had been raining all week, and I was looking forward to the fresh air, to getting some good cave shots for my cave series, some woodsy stuff, maybe even a group of tiny white flowers to add to my “flowers in the dark” series. We already knew one cave was closed–the bats are nesting–but the other was only a short walk away from where its trail began. I was planning on climbing out of the car and heading right up.
First time we went here as a family, we had no trouble at all finding the right parking lot and heading up (then again, we had no end in mind that day). This time, however, we had to pull a few u-turns before finding the right parking lot–still snickering and poking fun and marveling at the speckles of rain on the windshield.
“A little rain never hurt anyone,” I said. Goo excitedly announced from the back seat that she was going to splash in puddles. Howl licked at his closed window. Chris parked (finally) in the right lot.
I received the photography gene from my granddad, who’s spent much of his life behind a lens. A lot of what I know came from him, and I look up to him often for advice and approval.
Last week he gave me a bunch of his old gear, including the very camera he used in his studio. It’s surreal to be able to hold these artifacts, especially knowing just how knitted a camera can be with a photographer’s sense of self. It’s like holding a piece of my granddad’s soul. They are him in the past, and him today, and now they will be a part of me–and hopefully my daughter–as well.