Where the Hell Have I Been? The 52 Project, and More.

Right, so, the past month hasn't exactly been the kindest to me, stress-wise, but now I feel a little more on-track, focused, and ready to get back out doing what I do best. What happened? Employers, wishy-washy clients, and an overload of "pro bono" work finally got the best of me when it came to working up some blog posts. And though they may not have the same tech-junkie tone to them, I assure you they're still coming from the same overly-opinionated guy. ^_^

So what's new? No I'm not talking about photography news, there's plenty of other outlets for that; this post is going to be fairly egocentric, so let's get to it. New in my life this past month: more individual freedoms as to Mat Marrash Photography, the purchase of a film camera, and the considerable slowing-down of my photographic processes. Yes, that's right, a film camera; and not just any film camera, the medium format legend, the Hasselblad 500C.

My "New" Hasselblad 500C, Fantastic Camera, Stunning Imagery!For starters, yes, this camera is old. It is, in fact, six years older than my mother (and probably better condition since it hasn't had two kids :p ). Why would any rational, tech-minded person do such a thing? Simple reasoning, there's nothing I can find for less than $10k in the digital world that comes close to the feeling I get when I see the big, beautiful 2 1/4" negatives that come out of this camera. So what does this new addition to my photo lineup mean to you, the readers? It means two things, firstly that yes, I will be talking about how much film is aiding my lifelong study of photography, and secondly, that the photos you see from now on will be a mix of film and digital, with a stronger emphasis on quality over quantity. This baby only gets 12 shots per roll of 120 film, and with two film backs, I've got 24 shots to get something good before a 2-3 minute down period of speed reloading. Quite a drastic change from the 1D Mark II which doesn't even fill it's buffer until 26 frames have gone through, a 3.25 second process.

A random but adorable Pembroke Welsh Corgi at Findlay's Riverside ParkNow onto the processing aspects of film, or total lack-there-of. The image you see to your right has had NO processing, only cropped from how it was scanned; hell, there's even some scratches and dust because I was too excited to get these things online! Why should I care that there's no processing involved? The past two years of my photographic life have been spent worrying about a suitable editing workflow. JPEGs and RAWs out of camera just have no chance of looking like this! Even with the help of some store-bought presets, there's a good chance this look can't be achieved without considerable effort, time, and extra money. And as of lately, these are things I'm finding I have less and less of. It's relieving and equally terrifying that all I have to do is finish a roll, mark it, and send it off to the lab, (now if I can find a lab that doesn't terrify me with the consistency of their results).

So film is slower, not instantaneous, and every single aspect of the camera is manual, what is there to like about film? Exactly that, slowing down is the key. I thought it would take longer to happen, but I'm sick of going to a sporting event with reasonable expectations of coming back with several hundred images, only to cull down to the first hundred. It feels cold, sloppy, and frankly, unprofessional. I've always liked to be more deliberate with my images, and 12 shots to get a keeper or two sounded right up my alley. Little did I know my keeper rate would be much higher than the 10-20% I've been used to with digital. Here's some examples from my first two rolls of film through the Hasselblad 500C. 11/24 isn't bad, especially considering that the first roll was improperly wound, resulting in another 3 keepers that just wouldn't scan properly due to inadequate negative spacing >__<.

What good can come from slowing down, spending less time on digital, and more time on film? To be honest, I'm not entirely sure, but I hope that with a good year of consistently trying it, something cool is bound to happen. Enter "The 52 Project"

Over the next 52 weeks, I plan on:

  1. Shooting at least 1 roll of 120 film per week.
  2. Processing the film at a lab for the first 10 weeks, then by hand.
  3. Scanning and uploading at least 3 images from each roll to Flickr.
  4. Updating the Blog on my progress of The 52 Project.

It's a hefty order, but I'm up to the challenge and will start with the postings next week! Technically, I've already got enough finished rolls to cover me for the next 2 weeks, but I'll be fair and try to have genuinely new stuff for each week. Personally, I like the idea of a 365 challenge, but with the nature of film, processing, scanning, etc., it seems a little more reasonable to have results for once a week rather than every day.

For those wondering if I'll still have other content besides The 52 Project, of course I will! It may not be as frequent, but there's already some blog posts on the back burner and I plan on having a lot of nicely spaced content throughout the next month or so. So stay tuned, things are going to get VERY interesting!