The Twelve Squares of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me......FILM! Lot's of lovely film!

After my recent 12 frames blog, I wanted to follow up with some film frames I took over Christmas, specifically with the Hasselblad. I've had a dip in shooting film lately and had a backlog of films to process, which, with limited time has just sat there. I've been trialling out a new UK lab however called FilmDev and so far I've been really pleased with the speed, service and quality of the results. 

I also shot quite a few rolls with the XPAN, which I'll share once I get those back, but for now, here are my twelve squares.

The twelve frames of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me.....LIGHT!....so much glorious light!

The last few months have been, well, hectic, dark, dull and to be honest I'd started to lose a bit of the 'bug'.....then, along came Christmas, and what a Christmas it was. 

This year was a 'Southern' Christmas, which meant around ten days in Poole, Dorset, taking in trips to Sandbanks, Old Harry Rocks, Kimmeridge, Lulworth, Studland to name a few. Aside from one day of rain, the weather played ball...even the fog was my friend.

I've been shooting a lot with the M9 lately, which these are from, but I also shot a bucket load of film which I've just despatched to FilmDev, a new lab I'm testing out. Those will come this week hopefully, which I'll share when I can.

For now, here's my twelve frames of Christmas.

Serial Cropper

I have a confession.....I once was a serial cropper.. Not just a little bit off the corners, but completely changing perspectives, and panoramic crops were my thing. I'd create the most ridiculous ratios, coupled with massive over processing and then sit back and marvel.

Then I rediscovered film.

 Millau Viaduct

Millau Viaduct

Film led me into different alleyways, different bars, different clubs. My former self would crave the ostentatious results, seeking glitz and glamour from my photos...Film was like walking into a decent local and just asking for a pint of ale....no fuss, no mixers.....just a pint.

The pints made me happy.....I didn't crave anything else... the pint came, and what I got, was exactly what I wanted. No manipulation, just perfection. 

 Sun rising over the Tarn Valley, France

Sun rising over the Tarn Valley, France

Then one day, whilst in the local, I spotted something different. Someone had a pint of ale, but it was different. It was like a craft ale....still authentic, still real, but with an added je ne sais quoi.

In stepped the XPAN.

Here in front of me was something that allowed me to retain the authenticity that I was enjoying, with a little bit of the glitz from my former life. The XPAN has the power to completely change your perspective, your view, your eye......you.

And I have to say......I'm loving it!

365, Success or Failure?

On day 69, I took a photo of my fridge with loads of paintings my kids had done at school and nursery. I took this photo at about 23:55....just in time. I think in my head, I knew this was the beginning of the end for this project, but I continued....up until day 140, when I missed a shot.

 Lunch time at Alderley Edge

Lunch time at Alderley Edge

Ironically, the day I missed the first shot was when I was travelling, which is generally when I try to make sure I'm shooting a lot.... It's kind of important when you label yourself as a travel photographer! 

After that day, I tried to recover, but in all honesty, I found it too hard. January was really tough, but I had enthusiasm, February was harder, but I had a few better days of weather, but not much. As I moved into March, I found family and work consuming so much of my time that this project simply took a back seat. 

But then I kind of always said that this wasn't necessarily about taking 365 photos, but more of a foundation for stuff I wanted to achieve this year. 

When I look back at January, I made a list of what I was trying to achieve during this project. Here's some of the highlights. 

  • Improve developing skills: I'm pretty happy with the consistency I've been getting lately, certainly with my black and white work. I need to shoot more colour in 35 to nail this, but I'm getting there. I learnt a lot simply by shooting more. I got rid of scratch marks on the negatives through changing my process, I found a hairdryer on the reels made loading the film so much easier, which meant I could concentrate on the critical stuff....temperature and timings. I believe this project was a foundation for that and while I don't take a shot everyday, I continue to shoot more and develop my skills in this area. 
 Warsaw at night

Warsaw at night

  •  Portraits: I've done a couple of shoots and been really happy with the results. I think it's a confidence thing and shooting more will help. I hope to have a shoot in September to continue with this, but I've made progress, and so far, I'm content with this. 
 Subway portrait

Subway portrait

 Portrait of my friend Atle in Oslo

Portrait of my friend Atle in Oslo

  • Print More: I've been getting a lot more proof prints with my pro lab developed stuff, and continue to get prints through a variety of sources. Printspace is still my go to lab for quality prints but also really like Artifact Uprising for some cool square prints. It is still special to see stuff taken through to final print, especially work I've shot and developed myself. 
  • Finish Twelve: OK, that's not done yet, but we set some new ground rules to help us complete it faster, which should help. I'm still confident we can do this, and still confident in the 12 photographers we have lined up, so as ever, watch this space. 
  • Continue to enjoy photography: Do I like what I do...? Absolutely! Do I think I can improve...? Always! I know my work is not groundbreaking by any stretch, and I know I often dabble in gear, more than is probably healthy to pursue excellence, but I actually don't care. For me, I have a decent balance of challenge and fun. I'm trying to devote a bit more time to my Stock photography, which is helping to fund my obsession of film, but I'm also just enjoying what I do. I think I've found my niche, something I actually think I'm pretty good at, and I'll continue to explore this throughout the remainder of this year. I've got a few ideas for projects, which are based around this niche and something I'll have a go at when I get some time...for now, I'll enjoy what I do, when I can.

So, back to the original question. Success or failure? Well, I didn't shoot 365 shots...didn't even make it half way. I love seeing the work of the other 365 projects which continue to deliver, and totally respect what they are trying to do... I tried too, but this year was simply not for me.  

But I've learnt so much, about me, about photography, about what I like, what I don't like, what I'm good at and what I'm crap at...so, in my mind, I'm pretty happy. 

I'll let you make your own mind up, and would love to hear your thoughts. For now, I'll just leave you with a few highlights. 

 

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