May 2020. With COVID in full swing, I decided to leave the city and make the hour-long trip to the desert to capture some landscapes. Still getting used to the new (to me) Leica M4, I brought it along with a Summicron 5cm f/2 and a box of assorted film stocks.
There was a beautiful, clear blue sky with some gorgeous midday light, and I had shot most of a roll of Kodak T-MAX 100. By the time I advanced to the last frame, I saw a herd of camels cresting a dune a few hundred metres away. I quickly fire off the last shot and get about loading another roll, Acros 100 (the old one, expired).
While fumbling with the camera, I hear a motor, and a man on a quadbike appears behind the camels. When I waved he made his way to me. After a brief hello and a brief attempt at communication, he gestures to the seat behind him and says some words in Arabic. While his mask made it harder to understand, I got the gist of what he was saying. I hop on and he takes me to the camels.
It’s a group of twenty or thirty camels, all spread out around a salt flat between the dunes. He says another word in Arabic and all of a sudden the camels surround us. It was the perfect opportunity to capture them up close, and it’s not one that many get.
They were very curious, smelling my camera, my bag, one of them even nibbled my arm, but it didn’t last long. I managed to shoot twelve frames before they became uninterested and automatically continued on their habitual path to the farm. The man drove me back to my car, and I thanked him for everything.
However, that whole time a single thought stood out in my mind: before removing the baseplate to load the ACROS, I had forgotten to rewind the film. Rookie mistake. Nonetheless, the results show it was well worth ‘ruining’ the roll for those twelve frames of the camels. The ‘ruined’ T-MAX 100 will be the subject of another article in the near future, but you can find some of those frames on my Instagram, and some of my other written posts on my blog.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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