It had been 20 years since I handled black and white film. “Here’s a Rolleiflex with 8 rolls of Kodak Tri-X 320”, my friend said. It expired 12 years ago, but it should be OK.” Even though I had never shot with a medium format camera and I couldn’t wait to snap my first picture. It was a Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model 2 K4B made some time between 1945 and 1949.
I was heading to Long Island to spend a few days soaking in the sun. Leaving on a ferry from Bridgeport, CT I walked along the upper deck with the Rolleiflex slung around my neck. As we left the port I noticed a jetty stretching out into the sound. A lone seagull flew above. I panned the camera, “click”.
Looking back at the seating area I noticed a woman sitting by herself. She clutched her hat as the wind whipped through the deck. I paused, raised the camera, “click”.
The next morning my father and I drove to the beach. Holding his cup of joe, he hurried towards the ocean. I followed closely behind. An unoccupied lifeguard’s chair was on our left. My father turned his head to the right. I steadied the camera, “click”.
As I walked along the beach, surfers donned wetsuits with shortboards tethered to their wrists. A lone surfer popped up out of the water made his way along the shore. I looked through the viewfinder, framed the shot and turned the focusing knob. “click”
I continued my journey along the beach. Seagulls flocked to pockets of sand, scurrying off whenever I got too close. Along the dunes, I noticed a piece of driftwood resting alongside a rickety white fence. “This will make a great shot.” “click”.
Shooting black and white film is a magical process. From framing the shot to developing the film, there’s nothing like it.
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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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