Just before COVID-19 hit Australasia, I was a student starting a 3-month overseas internship in Hamilton, New Zealand. Being 8,500 km away from home, I had dragged along most of my photography gear along with me, 7 rolls of film included. What I didn’t realize then was that those 3 months would be reduced to a mere 2 weeks, due to a mass recall of overseas-based students by the education ministry. That was a real shame; I was looking forward to exploring the various cities on North Island and spending some quality time with my relatives, my camera, and the grand landscapes.
As a result of the unscheduled and premature departure, I only had 2 days to walk around. I’ll be writing about my second day in Hamilton’s city center mainly because I’m more satisfied with these shots. This roll was shot with my Nikkor 35mm f/2 AI and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-S lenses, but I don’t know which frame was taken with which; I’m not in the habit of recording my settings for every frame I shoot.
Loading a roll of Kodak Portra 400 into my only camera, the Nikon FM2n, I hit the streets. I love Portra 400 for the warm tones it gives and how it makes everything look like something out of a wild west movie. Fine-grain is a plus as well. There’s always something refreshing about street photography in an unfamiliar environment; I feel like I’m more inspired, pay more attention to my surroundings whenever I’m with my camera somewhere I have never been before. I’m more adventurous when it comes to talking to people and getting near them to get the right composition.
I waited a few months to develop my film due to the lockdown, but when I got the negatives back and scanned it at home (minor contrast adjustments and straightening), I just loved how the images came through; it made me reminisce that very short stay.
I suppose at the end of the day, I think that day’s walkabout was a decently salvaged ending to what could have been a disappointing and wasted trip. I’m sure like everyone else, we all can’t wait for restrictions to ease to get moving and creating.”
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