Slowing it down with photography


Anyone who knows me, knows that I am fairly relaxed. One of my dearest friends described me as “Half man, half duvet” many years ago, and I’ve spent a lot of time aspiring to that goal. I like to slow down from time to time.

It’s nice to see that hygge is allowing more and more people to see the benefits of a slightly dialled-back approach, so I thought I would show you a little of my recent photographic purchasing, while MummyBarrow is not looking.

It started when, about to head off to Camp Bestival, I decided that I didn’t want to take a digital camera, but I did want to be able to take some pics, so perhaps something a little lower-tech – and less nickable – might be a good idea?

eBay called to me and I found this little beauty, which is a Canon AE-1 Program 35mm film camera. Disappointingly, I had to take the pics for this post on my iPhone but hey.

When it was launched in 1981, it was (to 16yr old me) almost magical – you got SLR functionality with full automation. (It had probably been around for ages, but to me it seemed revolutionary). And now, on eBay, this marvel was £35. I had to have it.

And then I realised that I had been missing film.

Loading it, just touching this weird stuff which was light-sensitive. Feeling it as you wind each frame on, the tension in the winding arm. It’s very …real, in precisely the way that digital isn’t.

And then the tricky bit, where everything can be lost if you’re careless – unloading and sending for developing, putting your images into an envelope and crossing your fingers.

And then the fun bit….the reveal. Did you get it, that shot? Does the image bring the smell of the day back into your nose, can you hear the birds in the trees?

And the strange surprises when you see an image you forgot about, either between ones you do recall, or – best of all – at the start of a roll, a left-over from a previous trip out with your camera.

The Canon is great, but there’s still a bit too much technology.

Slow down.

My next buy was this, a medium format camera that is essentially just a box with a piece of glass on the front of it. No autofocus (like the Canon) but also no light meter, no ISO setting – you just set the aperture and the shutter speed and……press the shutter.

Loading and winding the film is even more basic, but the negatives are huge and a good pic is much much better on this. Bad ones are still rubbish, and as the main component (me) is shared, that does happen a fair bit, and it needs a battery… and they can run down.

Still, just a bit too much technology. Slow down.

Enter the Noon.

This is a thing of beauty IMO. It has the same big 120 film as the Bronica, a fixed aperture (equivalent of f128) and you regulate the amount of light going in by using the big wooden shutter on the front, by lifting it up and down with your finger. It has almost no technology and is the perfect hygge camera.

You wind it on using the twiddly knobs on the top until a number appears in the glass window on the back . Over wind, and you’ll get a space between your frames. Underwind, and your images will overlap. And it’ll all be your fault.

Exposures are measured in 10s of seconds (sometimes minutes) and it’s not exactly suitable for paparazzo work, as each picture takes two or three minutes to set up!

These aren’t for everyone, but in this immediate, ‘me’ era, I think they’re all great.

Slow down, take a picture.

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