Julian Simpson

Adventures in Film

I'm old enough to have started out taking pictures on film, and shooting movies and TV shows on film too. But it wasn't really until digital cameras came along that I really took an interest in still photography. I've spent a lot of time with a lot of different digital cameras and I never spent very much time looking back. And than a noodle around on eBay in 2016 presented me with a Russian Lomo camera from, I guess, the early 80s. On a whim, I bought it and loaded up with some Kodak Tri-X and kept it in my pocket for trips to Los Angeles and to Paris.

Los Angeles, 2016

That old Lomo camera is very small and super easy to use, but I'm guessing it hasn't been serviced since... Ever. It scratches the film, it has light leaks, the film doesn't reliably wind on. But I really love the images that come out of it. And I really enjoy how precious each frame is; you don't just fire off a bunch of shots, you have to take a moment and figure out if this is really the image you want to capture. 

I already had a bunch of digital photographs of Los Angeles and these look exactly like everyone else's photos of Los Angeles. But the Lomo and the Tri-X film turn it into a different city.

Paris, 2016

I took the same camera, again with the same Tri-X film, to Paris, under much less sunny conditions later that year. The photos I snapped there have a timeless quality that I really love.

The Pont Des Arts, before they removed the padlocks.

I love this photo because it looks like it could be from the 1940s.

The Tuileries Gardens.

Looking out over Le Marais.

Since that time, I have experimented with an old Nikon that my father had when I was a kid and a reconditioned Olympus Trip that my wife gave me for Christmas.

And then I got a Hasselblad...

Los Angeles, 2020

I got my hands on a 1973 Hasselblad 500cm, so I decided to take it with me on a trip to LA at the beginning of the year. I realised this was risky because I hadn't tried the camera out properly. 

It turned out all the film backs had various light leakage issues AND one of them had a hard time winding the film on (see left), but I actually love the effect of these. 

I'm about to get the camera serviced and fixed, so I'm preserving these happy accidents here.

I'm definitely seeing a lot of film photography in my future. The Hasselblad will be serviced and then I'm going to be lugging it around with me a lot this year. I still like digital, obviously, but there's something tangible about shooting film and I'm going to do as much of it as I can before all the film runs out.

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