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This week, we’re featuring a photo essay from film photographer Thomas Berlin. Thomas captured the beautiful island of Sicily during winter with 35mm film. Read below about his time in Sicily and why he is drawn to film photography.
Our trip took place before the lockdown. In the cold German winter, we flew to southern Italy, to the island of Sicily.
The island has a varied landscape and is full of historical evidence, including Greek and Roman temples. We spent a few days in and around Syracuse, a port city on the southeast coast of Sicily. From there we visited destinations along the eastern coast and in the hinterland.
It should be a trip with light luggage. The only camera I took with me was my Nikon FM2 with the Nikkor 50mm / 1.4 and the pleasantly small and good quality 100mm / 2.8 of the E series.
Since I come from portrait photography, wide-angle lenses don’t play a big role for me. The viewing angle from a 50mm lens gives me the opportunity to depict enough of the subject and at the same time to set a focus.
For me, the frame is one of the most important photographic aspects. I didn’t find previous attempts with a 21mm ultra wide angle, where “everything” is on it, particularly interesting. Maybe I should take a 35mm lens with me as a compromise.
Because of the winter and the historical buildings, I could have imagined doing the photo tour in black and white. Nevertheless, I photographed in color, on a Kodak Portra 400.
With this film, I was attracted by the rather warm color rendering of the Portra. The color contrast to the expected rather cool winter landscape, which fortunately still had a few hours of sunshine, seemed attractive to me when planning the trip.
Why shoot on film at all, since analog is no better? Not better, but different. And that’s what mattered to me.
At least three reasons come to mind: FIRST, I enjoy analog cameras more than digital ones. But that’s just a technical and not a photographic argument.
SECOND, taking photos on film means a different photographic process in which I press the shutter button much less and I perceive the photographic moment more consciously.
I look at the subject for a lot longer before I frame and release. The camera is not so much in the foreground. I send my films to a laboratory and receive the scanned images back. Only after 2-3 weeks do I look at the results, and then I have a greater mental distance from the shoot when selecting the image, which in my opinion is positive for the image selection.
THIRD, I often find the look of analog images more attractive. That is not objective, but purely subjective. But photography is about my subjective point of view, because I’m not a repro photographer.
Of course, you can try to create the analog look digitally, too. But the direct route is more convenient for me, because I have to spend less time at the computer in order to choose from a multitude of digital images and then edit these selections.
Why did I speak of my subjective point of view? Because photography, especially the analogue one, is simply a subjective thing, in which there is seldom a good or bad, but different sensations.