Going Back

I am in love with my new camera. 

It's compact, light, has a built in meter, and a fixed 80mm lens -- my all time favorite. It has been so nice to rediscover the feeling of loading 120 film, the slower pace of shooting, and the eager anticipation of getting film back from the lab. I don't know why I waited so long.

I haven't shot Black & White 120 film since the summer of 2004, when I was living in a VW camper in Europe. Even then I shot mostly color chrome and only dabbled in B&W. I shot the above image in Zermatt -- 4 pieces of film stitched together. It was a pretty special time -- shooting every day, driving from Amsterdam to Portugal and over to Switzerland, with a stop at the Tour de France. Of course there were some major mechanical issues in Spain, but that's another story.

This reconnection with my old 120 friend has made me much more aware of the overall acceleration of photography. The shoots I am doing these days are moving faster than ever before. We stand around monitors as the camera feeds it in real time. Sometimes we don't even look through the camera. We are doing more shots per day with less time per shot, and everything is turned around and delivered, then spread across more media than ever before in less and less time. Shoots that used to take 2 weeks are now done in 2 days or 2 hours. My digital cameras are now used for video. I own audio equipment that I don't really want to own, and have more image based applications on my computer than I'd care to admit. 

As a belated 40th birthday present to myself, I am going back to Switzerland for a weeklong backcountry ski tour with my new medium format obsession in order to shoot big, quiet, black and white landscapes of the Alps. I'll have that old conversation with TSA about hand checking my film. I'll get up before sunrise and watch the light go down at sunset. I'll take as long as I can to explore, compose, meter, shoot, think, and repeat. I'll drop the film at the lab when I get back and worry for days that the film is blown out or clogged up or something went wrong somewhere. 

I'll tear open that box from the lab and regardless of what's inside, it will be the best birthday present ever.