The Last Exposure
The Last Exposure
What to do with last exposure? This thought has been on my mind this past weekend and I’ll elaborate on it in just a moment. This is my first blog of any kind and I’m a little uncertain where it might lead. I find chatting to my friends about photography something gets a bit messy and certain topics don’t get enough conversation time or get effectively explained during a debate. This is my effort to put some of my photography related thoughts onto a page (read screen) and elaborate on my feelings about them.
As this is the first post and the question that provoked it was fairly clear I decided to call the blog and this first post the same name. The title does sounds a bit dramatic maybe or nostalgic or sad but it’s far from it. And it’s not coming of age story like the “The Last Picture Show”. I also apologies for messy writing technique and jumbled thoughts. If you read this and get angry with me about my gramma then I’m sorry.
Coast of Hastings, UK. Hastings Country Park. Kodak Portra NC160
While I was walking through London streets on fairly chilly but bright Sunday afternoon with my new/old 35mm camera I’ve reached a point on roll that said 24. This was an Ilford XP2 24 exposures black & white film not the usual 36. So I asked myself, do I burn the shot quickly or do I wait for something worthwhile to take a photo of?
I could have not given it a second thought but I let myself think on subject a bit longer. This question seems to have those two obvious answers at first or even one if you just want to get on with taking more photos. In the digital age where memory cards are extremely large and there is no 12, 24, 36 etc exposures limitation of film to concern yourself with this question doesn’t even come up. I have never found myself thinking my precious memory card is full, there is always more space. And power of delete button on the back of modern camera allows quickly to discard photos at an incredible pace.
Let us just think for a moment what happens, photos take by photographer and meticulously composed just few moments ago are trashed forever before evening leaving the camera or to be seen by anyone. It’s a little sad, the lack of care for the photo you taken seems side effect of a digital era. At the same time this sort of power to discard is what makes digital photography so attractive, you don’t need to think about consequences of what you are shooting largely because there is no cost involved and no limit to how much you can shoot. It’s a great for quickly learning basics of photography and getting to grips with such alien concepts as aperture, shutter speeds or ISO.
Of course this method leads most unsuspecting budding photographers into a territory of bad habits as well as creating the world we currently live in where photos are so numerous that we never see most of them as they are hidden away forever on personal computers and bulging external hard drives. Will we ever discover another Vivian Mayer? It’s unlikely personal storage devices will live long enough to be excavated with something amazing inside.
Recently I’ve shooting more and more on film, I find it interesting to be discovering a different side of photography. My personal style of shooting in terms of quantity has always been on a conservative side, even when shooting digital. Some project/assignments do demand a large volume of images with variations which I produce. When not shooting for a job it’s fun to set self imposed limitations which range from very general such as take less pictures to only limiting to one type of subject. On film limitations happen by naturally.
When shooting on film you can certainly do the same but lets return to a subject of cost. Certainly the monetary cost of film is higher than digital so some people would be reluctant to waste a frame. Just about every time I photograph a person using a film camera I hear a familiar question “Isn’t it expensive?”. But it’s a bit more than just money.
As I’m writing this post and processing information in my mind, it feels that each exposure is more precious because film as a medium has undergone a change. It’s a more precious, physical world of photography that we have lost with digital revolution. Back in the days, to see a photo you had to physically have it printed. And the pleasure of not knowing and not seeing the exact result of what you have just taken a photo of was a lovely experience in itself. Not finishing the roll quickly prolongs this pleasure. You can argue why not just finish the roll (sometimes it does finish without you noticing) and load the new one and enjoy shooting that? That is a valid point, if there is an abundance of subject matter, absolutely finish it off and go on to the next roll.
In reality we don’t always go on amazing trips and some of us don’t get a chance to point our lens at something interesting every day so the matter of just burning a frame and moving on to next roll seems a valid one. Of course as you do finish that last frame it’s another joyous and precious moment that awaits you and that is loading your next film roll and prepare to take your first exposure. Which sounds like a good subject for another post.