This story begins on Eid, the last day of the holy month of Ramadan. Usually, on Eid, you give cash as gifts. But instead, a friend gave me an expired roll of Fuji Superia 1600.
Context: Superia 1600 wasn’t necessarily a hard film to find when it was still produced but these days, it’s reached an unobtanium-level status thanks to eBay hipsters and its “relationship” to Fuji’s Natura 1600 film, which is unhealthily revered in some circles.
But I digress.
I was smitten. I’ve been shooting expired film for years, but I’d never managed to get ahold of this one. And it wasn’t like anything I’d shot before either; usually shooting expired low-speed Kodak film, I had to hunt for well-lit conditions, then meter slower than box speed. But 1600-speed film provides so much flexibility even when expired; I had to take advantage of it.
As I became acutely aware that this was likely going to be the only chance I had to shoot this film, I promptly tucked it away in the freezer to keep it from degrading any further. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to shoot with it, but it had to be something that I couldn’t use any other film for. It had to be something special.
Months passed, and I forgot about the film. I only rediscovered it as I was cleaning out my fridge and freezer before I left for winter break from school. I decided on a whim to bring it home to Chicago and told myself I’d shoot it before starting my next semester. I didn’t know what I wanted to shoot, but without a time limit, I figured I’d never bring myself to actually use it.
The following week a blizzard came through Chicago and I happened to be home the same afternoon. I steeled up the nerve to put the roll into my Pentax ME and ventured out, not knowing what awaited me.
Blizzards are especially magical because they dampen just about every sound, and the forest, as well as being completely empty, was completely silent. All I could hear was my breath and the crisp ratcheting and trigger of the shutter mechanism. Every so often when I shoot, I find the camera to become less of an object and more of an extension of my eye. This, safe to say, was one of those times.
You can’t see silence, obviously. But drink in these photos, and the silence will cloak you, the way it cloaked me.
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