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I am Johann Bottos and this is why I shoot film

I am Johann Bottos and this is why I shoot film

We’re here today with landscape photographer Johann Bottos, Italian native but (for the time being), settled in Austria

Not to diminish the wonderful images and narrative below but Johan is what one might call a little nutty about mountains.

Over to you, Johann.

 

 

Hi Johann, what’s this picture then?

Austrian Landscape IR - Mamiya 7ii - Rollei Retro 80s

Austrian Landscape IR – Mamiya 7ii – Rollei Retro 80s

This is an infrared shot I took of a mountain landscape in Austria.

I particularly enjoy this photo because I managed to get a wide array of greys and to contain the Wood effect exactly as I wanted. Obviously I also love the view, the untouched mountains and the feel of been so small and so humble in front of such a majestic creation.

 

 

Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)

Clouds on the Tre Cime of Lavaredo - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford FP4 Plus

Clouds on the Tre Cime of Lavaredo – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford FP4 Plus

I am a graphic designer from Italy and currently based in Villach, Austria. I enjoy going outdoors, feeling surrounded by nature and recording these moments with a medium format analogue camera.

 

 

When did you start shooting film and what about now? Why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?

Val Venegia, Winter - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Sfx 200

Val Venegia, Winter – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Sfx 200

I started shooting film at University as part of my graphic design course.

I have always enjoyed looking at images of natural parks around the world but I didn’t think I would eventually provide my own view of some of these areas. It just happened that I felt the need to have take some breaks from my daily life and I have found the kind of peace and equilibrium I was looking for in the mountains.

I continue to make photos and explore new natural areas when I can.

Il regno dei Fanes - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Il regno dei Fanes – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

I enjoy taking analogue photos not only because of the feel of film and the beauty of making a handmade print, but also because it is — in my case — a relatively slow process. Unlike when I was shooting digital, I do not make hundreds of photos, and I do not spend so many hours modifying them at the computer…

I don’t make hundreds of small quick actions anymore but I rather make fewer more thoughtful ones.

I shoot less but I make far fewer mistakes and think so much more before I shoot.

Thin Ice, Karwassersee, Austria - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Thin Ice, Karwassersee, Austria – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

I keep on shooting because it is a way to express myself. I don’t feel ok with myself if I don’t create something which I feel is just mine.

 

 

What’s the next challenge…your next step? How do you see improving your technique, or what aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?

Lith print

Lith print

In the last month or so, I have been making lith prints. It is the first time I attempted this technique and I really enjoy it. The range of visual styles that can be achieved through paper/developer combination, exposure, toning…well, they’re very  broad. The same can be said for the negative, and there are many distinct interpretations that can trigger very different feelings.

In the next 12 months I plan to have conducted a series of tests to ensure that I am capable of reproducing a specific feel in lith prints.

First Lith print - Moersch Easy Lith - FOMA Fomatone MG 132

First Lith print – Moersch Easy Lith – FOMA Fomatone MG 132

 

 


Any favorite subject matter?

Guardians of the morning, Fanes - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Guardians of the morning, Fanes – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

I very much enjoy mountain landscapes and perhaps this is also because they are very accessible from my house! I particularly like also untouched valleys and any other landscape environments in which I can feel alone and have in an intimate relationship with the nature around me.

Reflections, Narew River - Mamiya 7ii - Efke Aura 820

Reflections, Narew River – Mamiya 7ii – Efke Aura 820

 

 

You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?

Austrian Winter Landscape - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Austrian Winter Landscape – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

I shoot mostly with Ilford Delta 100 Pro… and if I had to choose one last roll that would be the one I choose. It just has the right feel to me and the results are always predictable.

I never get negatives that are too contrasty and it is quite flexible in many ways.

Monte Sella di Fanes - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Monte Sella di Fanes – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

 

 

You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What do you take with you and why?

Italy - Fanes 2 - Mamiya 7ii

Italy – Fanes 2 – Mamiya 7ii

I would take my Mamiya 7ii with its 43mm lens. I’d take a roll of Ilford Delta 100 and a roll of Rollei Retro 80s. In most cases I would use the Delta but in some specific cases the Retro 80 would produce some great results, I think.

 

 

You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?

Three Rocks - Mamiya 7ii - Efke Aura 820 (Film developed three years after it was exposed)

Three Rocks – Mamiya 7ii – Efke Aura 820 (Film developed three years after it was exposed)

I would go to the Grand Canyon.

I have never been there but I just see so much to play with in photographic terms. From interesting small details to incredibly vast views. The possibility for some great minimal silhouette shots as well as very detailed and texturally rich ones.

Just endless possibilities.

 

 

What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?

I think there is some serious misconception about the quality of analogue photography. I have read so many blogs about the endless debate megapixel digital vs analogue etc… and so many continue to make what I think is a big mistake.

Karwassersee IR - Mamiya 7ii - Rollei Retro 80s

Karwassersee IR – Mamiya 7ii – Rollei Retro 80s

There is the idea that analogue photography has quite low resolution because when you compare the two on the screen the digital one looks sharper etc. A negative is meant to be printed in a proper darkroom not to be scanned and compared to digital.

If people started to go to some exhibitions they would eventually see that some handmade analogue black and white prints look great.

So I would say to people to still consider not only the look and feel of film but also not forget the overall quality of it.

 

 

In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?

Stream, Hohe Tauern, Ankogelgruppe, Austria - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Stream, Hohe Tauern, Ankogelgruppe, Austria – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

I don’t know to be honest…

I hope for more and more photography exhibitions and fairs to focus also on analogue photography. I hope for more analogue photography communities to be born so that people can physically meet and share their ideas/views and discuss with some actual prints on hand, rather than solely exchange likes on social networks.

I think this would be a nice environment for an analogue photographer to live in.

Sorrosal Waterfall - Mamiya 7ii - Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Sorrosal Waterfall – Mamiya 7ii – Ilford Delta 100 Professional

 


 

Johann’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last photographer on these pages to bring up be debate about the resolution and supposed quality of analogue photography. He says:

“There is the idea that analogue photography has quite low resolution because when you compare the two on the screen the digital one looks sharper etc. A negative is meant to be printed in a proper darkroom not to be scanned and compared to digital.”

To me, there’s no doubt that digital has caught up to the resolution of film. It’s not there for all formats just yet but we shouldn’t kid ourselves, it’s only a matter of time before the resolution of film is outmatched.

But we’re not talking about resolution alone, are we?

Printed work continues to astound me. Looking at a traditional dark room print 10, 20, 30 inches across is truly is something to behold in my humble opinion. That’s not to say that darkroom printing is the only way to do things – I’m not that much of a purist. What I’m trying to say is that to fully appreciate the form, one should at least make an attempt to see it in the manner it was originally intended.

All this from someone who can safely say that 90% of the prints on his wall were made by a digital printer from digital stands.

Go figure.

You can catch up with Johann over on Facebook, and see much more of his beautiful work over at his Flickr stream. Please do drop him a line,

We’ll be back with another film photographer in a few days in the meantime, have you ever wondered how to go about making a 150x120cm (5×4 feet!) darkroom print? Check out the video below.

Oh and as ever, keep shooting, folks.

 

 

About The Author

EMULSIVE

Self confessed film-freak and filmphotography mad-obsessive. I push, pull, shoot, boil and burn film everyday, and I want to share what I learn. It might not all be right but it's a start.

6 Comments

  1. @ILFORDPhoto Makes me want to borrow my friend’s Mamyia 7ii (if he will let me) and head out into a wilderness!

    Reply
  2. Definitely “Il regno dei Fanes” perfectly meets my taste, as if find mountains as great subject to photograph. Tones and depth are impressive, perfect exposure. Excellent job, I’m impressed by this kind of work!

    Reply
  3. @ILFORDPhoto Fantastic.Speechless. Road trip to Johann’s house!

    Reply
  4. Thanks to all of you!!! I really appreciate!! 🙂

    Reply

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