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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Experiments in Old School

I have long been a huge admirer of Julia Margaret Cameron. When I was a university student, I was (unbeknownst at the time) extremely lucky to see an actual JMC print. It has haunted me ever since. She dressed people up in costumes and made portraits that evoked emotion and classic iconography. Is it any wonder I'm drawn to her work? Something about her total and purposeful lack of technical perfection is a siren song to me - who tries to micromanage every single detail.
I have done several photo sessions inspired by JMC, and after purchasing a fabulous lace dress from Hale Center Theater's costume surplus store, I felt it was time to revisit her again last weekend. I also felt like it was time to shoot film again after a 10 year break. I only have one yard-sale film camera (an Olympus OM-1n) so I bought me a roll of Kodak Tri-X and begged my youngest sister (who has always been keen to be my top model) to spend an afternoon breaking it in with me. Turns out the shutter sync is NOT 1/125th of a second as is evidenced in over half the roll of images which turned out like this: DOH!
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Ok, Perfectionist Kris, breathe!! It's all just for fun anyway. It was indeed fun to go back to the format I learned on (even though it was excruciatingly irritating to try to look at the back of the camera and seeing NOTHING but the back of the camera…) Some film images did get exposed well enough to be used. Here is a comparison of the same pose. The image on the left is a digital capture, processed in Lightroom and on NIK Silver Effects Pro (Tri-X preset). The right image is the actual scanned Tri-X negative. I posted this earlier on Facebook with a poll to see if anyone could recognize and identify the film image.
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To my surprise, the overwhelming majority incorrectly identified the LEFT image as the film image and the right as the digital capture. It was a fascinating result, and I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with this information, other than make sure I Google the OM-1n's shutter sync before I expose my next roll of film. I'd love to hear your thoughts on either Julia Margaret Cameron, shooting film, or your thoughts about my experiment in the comments below. Until next time! -Kris.

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