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  • Writer's pictureRuss

Film Photography is a One-man Sport

I have snubbed for quite a few months. I found that taking the complete summer off to heal a broken leg dumped a lot of stuff on the back-burner, including this blog.

So let’s see if I can provide it just a bit of attention in 2020.

This month I shall describe my December adventure of photographing in Europe and the issues of film. Our adventure combined three weeks of touring various cities in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain with Christmas at our daughter’s family. That means traveling in a party of four children, four adults and two vehicles. We did spread the adults around the cars.

How much film shooting did you do, Russ? Very little. One afternoon I borrowed a car and drove to some beautiful Belgian boat lifts dating to the late 19th century. Then one morning in Spain I caught sunrise over the city of Cordoba. Huh? That is all?

And the photos are still in the film backs, undeveloped.

What are these high hurdles to film?

First and foremost is that our 8-person team was all over the place. A single frame of film requires set-up a tripod, take light readings, set readings into the camera, focus on the subject, then release the shutter, break down the camera and tripod and store them carefully—just not going to happen with 10-year old twins and and 6-year old in the crowd. And the adults may put up with it a bit, but not for long.

Second, but not as important is the size and weight of the gear. I hauled a 4.6 pound Hasselblad 6X6 with a 180mm lens, with an additional 135 mm lens, and some filters, and spare batteries for the motor drive. Two film backs are another pound each. On my own, I do not mind slinging backpacks

Church in Cologne, Germany

with that sort of weight. Our daughter loaned me a tripod so I did not have carry that on the plane. But, I stuffed the backpacks into boot of the car with luggage, and coats, and oranges (my son-in-law bought them by the side of the road—absolutely delicious in Spain). It was crowded.

Third, the photos I did shoot a month ago are still on rolls of 6X6 film. I need to finish off the roll. 4X5 sheet film has the advantage that I can develop it whenever; usually when I accumulate four sheets in order to be efficient with the chemicals.

You are going to see a few of my DSLR photos on the Marmot Ridge Foto site. I attempted to stay pure with the film, but alas, DSLR is too easy. In spite of all the chaos I did lug my full-frame Canon with 70-200mm zoom through the forts, cathedrals, chapels and castles. Ok, that backpack, with three lenses and a computer, was not exactly feather weight either. But the ingenuity and automation of a 5DmkIII makes possible photographing in a traveling horde.

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