01 02 03 Snapperific: Christmas Eve Street Photography on Louis Botha 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Christmas Eve Street Photography on Louis Botha

This past Tuesday was Christmas Eve. I was lying on the couch, reading about Sebastiao Salgado and looking at some of his remarkable images.

I felt the pang for creating work, not just 'taking pics', but making something more substantial, something with meaning. I don't know if I did, except to say that it was meaningful and enjoyable for me. I suppose time will be the judge of it's meaning - time and critics and a body of work larger than I have yet made.

In any event, I went walking down the road on which I live, Louis Botha Avenue in Johannesburg. This is a walk I have made before with my camera. I have written on these electronic pages and shown pictures before.

This was somehow different. I had recently sold my digital cameras. I made a decision about the work I would be doing from next year and the tools and expectations I would have for this work. I would be rethinking the way I earned a living, reassessing the rigor of my art.

I have a small compact still, a Sony W110. It is outdated and severely limited. I could have taken it out to get fast feedback and faster editing and upload times. But I have made a decision and the Salgado work only seemed to reinforce those reasons behind the idea.

I took out my lovely Ricohflex VII twin lens reflex camera. I could have taken my Canon system with wider and longer lenses and a self-timer and cable release. But I wanted to shoot sparingly and edit my photos. I wanted to be able to have the speed and enjoyment of digital. but I wanted to shoot Black and White film. Was I being silly?

I loaded the camera with Fujifilm Neopan 100. I'd never used this film before. I went out and finished the current roll of Lomo 800 colour film and began to shoot the Fuji stock. It was slow. It was hard to frame on the dim waist-level finder. It was starting to drizzle.

I used my Minolta lightmeter to check light levels (I also usually use my iPhone and a lightmeter app but I left it at home tonight - this is not the safest street to be walking around at night with valuables...) and then held the shutter open for anything from 4 to 30 seconds, being ever so careful not to bump the camera as I tripped the shutter then let it go. It felt a little bit arcane. It was beautiful.

I got home and loaded the film into a developing tank, surprised that I was able to feed it onto the spool first time. I have had rolls of 120 that simply refused to load. I developed the film in D76 for ten minutes and the watched an episode of Hannibal while I waited for it to dry.

Soon enough, scans were made and an image had been uploaded to Flickr. Then within minutes, it had 60 views and a fave. We are living in splendid and fascinating times.

I felt revived and humbled to have been able to make the images I did, in the time I did and share them with the world, knowing that I am just a microcosm of a wonderful whole.

Here are the photographs, in the order they were shot. There was a blank frame and so there are only 11 shots. I have no idea what happened with that empty frame...

Thanks for looking. What does the new year hold for you and your photography?

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