Photography is a funny thing; compared to other art forms, I used to think it seemed like cheating. Just be in the right place at the right time and… click. There you have it. No technical brushstrokes, or chisels involved. Strange in its immediacy. Especially with digital cameras. No thought required. Switch it to landscape mode and the powerful computer inside calculates everything you need for the perfect backlit mountain scene. Voila.
I think that’s why I lost interest in taking pictures. It was so easy to click the shutter 10-20 times on a nice scene and get at least one decent photo that it became mindless and boring. There was no feeling of creating, no intent. Furthering my feelings that this was somehow a lesser form of art.
This illusion came crashing down when I found a Minolta SRT 102 at the thrift store around the corner and plugged a roll of Kodak UltraMax into it. Manual focus. Manual shutter speed and aperture. Lining up the exposure circle in the right side of the viewfinder. The results were… not great.
A few frames might have been considered “in focus,” but there wasn’t one frame on that whole roll worth looking at twice. Interestingly enough, this absolute failure had me hooked, immediately.
The improvements have been slow. Each roll bringing small changes. Maybe two frames worth looking back at. Some with proper exposure, better compositions. More shots in focus.
Soon I was researching cameras. Trying to find the right fit for me. Something more intentional than a thrift shop Minolta. I settled on the Voigtländer Bessa R. A rangefinder without the price tag of a Leica. A small enough profile to be comfortable traveling with. And even a few technical specs that might be considered better than the M6, like the 1/2000 shutter speed and the amazingly bright viewfinder.
Over all, it seemed like a great fit for me. And it was. I have had more fun shooting with the Bessa than with any other camera I’ve ever used.
I took it with me to Norway last month. Just after the polar night, as the sun began rising again after total darkness for two months. With sunrises that lasted for hours and seemed indistinguishable from the sunsets that were equally drawn out. The sun never reaching very far above the horizon, creating a strange transition from dawn to dusk.
This series is a compilation of some of my favorite shots from that trip. All shot on Kodak Porta 800. A choice I made due to the lack of bright sunny days. They are some of my favorite photographs I’ve ever taken, and a far cry from that first roll of UltraMax.
I’ve come a long way since then and continue to enjoy learning and growing in this creative endeavor. I’ve found a camera that fits me, and am trying to find a style that fits me as well.