We focus on digital photography, but we like to remember and appreciate that there is also some awesome film photography out there. Zeb Andrews reveals why he has chosen a selection of film cameras for his photography, and shares with us his photographic philosophy as well as eight of his creative photos of the Eiffel Tower.
All the photographs displayed here were shot using film cameras. I use film for about 80 per cent of my work, for a lot of reasons. When I compare film and digital, I look at what each does well and what each does less well, as I would do when deciding on a lens to use. In the way that many photographers don’t use just a single focal length, I don’t use a single camera. The images displayed here were made from three different cameras: a Holga 120FN, a Hasselblad 500C and a Zero Image 2000 pinhole.
Esprit se déplace de façon mystérieuse – Hasselblad
The Holga cost me $35. It is a plastic camera, a toy really. It has a primitive, plastic lens. It flares, vignettes, and scratches at times. It has a single shutter and a single aperture. Focus is done via educated guess work. All of this means that the camera is quirky and highly susceptible to serendipity. I think a lot of modern cameras drown us in controls. We spend more time browsing menus or with our eyes glued to readouts on the backs of cameras we lose sight (literally and metaphorically) of what we should be paying attention to. The Holga does this so well (as does the Zero Image pinhole). With its utter simplicity, its lack of controls and spartan approach I barely think of the camera at all until the moment I need to raise it up, point it and fire. I think it is good to mix in an element of chance into your photography. Photography for me is more about exploration and discovery than it is about making pretty photos. The Holga often surprises me.
Il était une fois – Hasselblad
Un peu de paix – Holga and Kodak Tri-X film, 400 ISO.
The Hasselblad is the Rolls Royce of the group. An elegant, entirely mechanical, Swiss made camera that is as fun to use as the results it generates. My particular camera was built in the late 1960s and due to the Zeiss lenses and 2.25″ negative outperforms almost any modern camera out there (in megapixels it generates about a 70mp image when the film is scanned). It is hard to really describe the magic of holding the camera and peering down through the waistlevel finder at the world; at least it is difficult if you are not standing next to the person and able to show them what you are talking about. But take my word for it, it is magic of a sort. And highly addictive.
Ces grandes hauteurs – Pinhole. “The pinhole of the camera has an effective aperture of f250, so everything is always in focus and exposures can be lengthy. For this image at sunset, my exposure was about a minute.”
The Zero Image 2000 pinhole is my best friend. Like the Holga it is sheer simplicity; a wooden box to hold film fronted with a small disc of brass foil. A tiny pinhole is drilled into that disc. No lens, no glass, no coatings. A sliding wooden shutter controls exposure. Not even a viewfinder for framing. Composition is equal parts guessing, experience and intuition. Like the Holga, the pinhole never fails to surprise me with its results, and as such, it is magical in the way it works too. It shows me views of the world that I cannot see without a pinhole camera for eyes.
Aimez où vous êtes – Hasselblad.
Now that you know a bit more about the three cameras, you may have an idea of how I approached the Eiffel Tower. All three cameras operate in their own way and so I took all three along to photograph this iconic structure. I have heard some people write off the Eiffel Tower as “over-photographed”. I disagree. I think when you reach that point you are in a sense saying you cannot think of any new way to approach it.
Et le temps glisse à nouveau – Hasselblad. “Here I broke out my 8 stop ND filter, lengthening the exposure out to a minute or so in the middle of the day.”
I approach photography in a manner that there is always some new or fresh way to photograph something. Ironically, I find it a bit easier to do so with heavily photographed areas such as the Eiffel Tower simply because there is a huge volume of material out there already done, hence I have plenty of examples to steer away from. I keep looking and I move a couple of steps in one direction, pick up a different camera, crouch down and peer into the reflection in a mud puddle or duck behind a clump of tall grass. I don’t settle for the first impressions, but keep poking around. This is important, and film helps with this.
I don’t get much hung up on technical details when photographing. Understanding technical details is important, but in a vastly different way than knowing how to look at something creatively.
La distance d’ici à là – Pinhole
Naturellement – Hasselblad and Kodak Tri-X, 400 ISO.