Jae Song | Oct 16, 2018 | 2
EMULSIVE interview #153: I am Yusuf Wiryonoputro and this is why I shoot film
I’m a huge fan of today’s interviewee, he’s responsible for some of the most beautiful slide film landscape photography posted on EMULSIVE this year through his two guest post on working with slide film and eliminating the infamous Fuji Velvia magenta cast. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Yusuf Wiryonoputro.
Hi Yusuf, what’s this picture, then?
YW: I took this picture here at home. That is where I learned shooting landscape on film, especially using slide film. This place is simply the perfect place for me to practice, because the foreground has both open and closed (dark) spots and the sunset is in front of me. These will help me learn how to work with the low light and narrow latitude of the film.
I took this picture recently, to be used as a sample image for my article about slide film that I wanted to share. However, more than just a sample shot, I can very much relate to this picture. The chair left alone in the dark just looks lonely. But then, I was amazed by the sunset surrounding colors and the clouds formation that I rarely seen. It’s an exciting moment. Those formed a dramatic and beautiful sky that dominating everything in the foreground that looks dark and empty. That contrast just says something to me.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
YW: My name is Yusuf Wiryonoputro. I live in Indonesia, and I’m a father of two. By day, I work as a programmer.
When I was kid, my dad showed me some slide films with pictures he took when he was studying abroad (in 1980’s). The slides contained pictures of people and panorama in Hawaii. That was a good memory to me; It felt amazing viewing them from slide by slide using a slide viewer. Btw, this is the viewer (I can’t believe I found it on eBay, same model).
I never thought that years later I will fall in love with taking pictures with slide films and show them to my dad!
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
YW: I can’t remember the first time I used a pocket film camera. I rarely use it actually, only if there is a special school event. Buying film was also expensive at the time.
Years later, digital cameras became popular. The first time I used a digital camera, it had a floppy drive for file storage! That was so awesome. To cut the story short, a few years back, my good friend helped me get started in exploring photography. I mainly shoot landscapes, and since then, I have used several digital cameras.
I got interested in film after a friend told me of his passion for films. He showed me photographs he had taken on film. Those brought back old memories, and I instantly fell in love with the look and the shots he made (thank you Ko Jusuf!). Not long after that, I got myself a film camera – Leica M6 which I used extensively for shooting of landscapes.
What drives me to keep shooting? I think it is a combination of several factors. First, I enjoy the beauty of nature, and seeing something unique in a scene; I derive a lot of satisfaction from composing, capturing, and then developing the films. I may not have something specific to achieve, since all these about enjoyment. But that drives me enough to the effort in learning and exploring more in film photography. It’s more than just a hobby; it is my passion, regardless of how good or bad my current shots are.
One big element that also drives me to keep shooting is my supportive partner, my wife Hermin. Her support and sacrifice drive me to continue.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
YW: Sometimes, my work involves content designing that requires photographs. That was the reason I started out learning photography in the first place. But then, I did not need to use that many photographs for work, but I just got excited with the photography itself.
My good friend from Perth who is also a landscape photographer inspired me to love landscapes, long before I got started out. Back then, I was fortunate that I could learn from him. He also took me to some beautiful beaches in Perth, where I could learn further the process with his guidance (thanks, Denis!)
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
YW: For shooting landscapes, I’m more to film now. But sometimes I used digital, especially when I need to get results fast (for events or family). Even though I mainly use film now, I love both.
What’s your next challenge…your next step? How do you see yourself improving your technique? What aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?
YW: My challenge may be getting the shots from ordinary scenes or difficult conditions. On a cloudy day where there is no something spectacular, in a harsh daylight, in complex shadow or highlight, and so on. I want to learn and practice more on seeing the scene in a way that results in good landscape captures.
Another challenge for me is that, for learning purposes, I decided not to apply any post adjustment. I thought, instead of fixing the results (digitally), it would be better for me to locate and fix the cause of the problem. Besides that, I enjoy seeing the result directly through the transparent slides, so I must learn get the shot right.
I wanted to continue with something original. If I share a picture and tell that I use this film and that camera but not mentioning that I also made certain adjustment, someone may think that it is very difficult to get that same shot, while in fact it is impossible without Lightroom adjustment. Half information may give a wrong impression of the real characteristic of the film (and also its potential). With post adjustment, colors can be made more vibrant, contrast can be changed, latitude limit can be exceeded with shadow or highlight adjustment. And then at some point, I lost the natural look from my image, even though I may still have its unique analog look.
So, keeping the results as they are, I believe, can be a good resource for new learner like me to improve – to know the real look and characteristic of the film as well as its potential. Yes, its potential, because we can also make certain adjustment to the results during the shot with correct exposure, light filtration, and maybe many other ways.
Of course, this ‘no post adjustment’ is only for the learning purposes, and sharing my love of film photography.
This photograph for example, is a sunrise view from our room during a short holiday trip last month. The room was still dark, but looking outside, I saw a beautiful sunrise with its surrounding colors that lightened up the sky. I loved the contrast and wanted to capture it. It was a bit challenging as I wanted to shoot the sun while keeping the sky’s surrounding colors visible, and at the same time I also wanted to make sure that only the room floor and the curtain were clearly visible, while everything else should be kept dark.
For this shot, I metered from the floor, and brought the sky exposure close enough to the floor exposure using my graduated ND filters. The above is the outcome. I like it because it doesn’t just capture the contrast, but also the way the light entered our room.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
YW: My favorite subject is the beach. I am always drawn to texture, colors, formation, reflection, or guiding lines. I tend to use a common style in landscape composition with foreground details and depth of field.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an unknown assignment. You can take one camera, one lens, two films and you have no idea what you’ll be shooting. What do you take with you and why?
YW: Leica M7. The built-in meter is good (bright) in low light condition. Other features are also great (but not critical), such as automatic exposure more than 30 sec, slowest manual speed up to 4 sec, etc.
35mm Summicron. Wide enough for landscape and can be used for almost anything.
Agfa Precisa CT-100. In case color, contrast and saturation are needed. Less magenta cast.
Agfa Vista 400. Good for general use, and can still capture the slight red-yellow in the sky.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location for the rest of your life. What do you take, were do you go and why?
YW: The beach. The scene contains the land, the water, and the sky. The land with the sand, the moss, the rock, the sea water with movement, and the sky with texture and colors. All meet in one place, and that is the beach. I just love it.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
YW: Kodak Ultramax 400, shoot at 200. Grainy, vibrant (but not too saturated), georgous analog feel that I like. I want to take pictures of my daughter, my son, my wife. The place would be the beach or river with small shops and restaurants. That would be a nice view; an intimate moment to capture with the last roll. But of course, I don’t want that to happen. I still want to shoot many more rolls!
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
YW: “Film is better than digital” or “digital is better than film”. We can compare in terms of functions and results, advantages and disadvantages. But it is clear, each cannot be replaced by the other. I mainly use film now, not because it is better than digital. The reason I use film now is because of its uniqueness became important and personal to me.
For me it’s not about the comparison or image result competition, but more about the uniqueness and personal connection, where I can see certain aspects in film and just love it. That way, any disadvantages, limitation, or manys failure that I made won’t matter.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
YW: I believe the future is bright. We as passionate film photographers will continue expressing our love for this medium.
~ Yusuf Wiryonoputro
One of the things I find most interesting about Yusuf is his constant and methodical approach to fixing is exposure and tint/cast results in-camera and not simply editing affected frames in Lightroom, Photoshop or a similar application.
It says a lot about him as an individual but I also believe that it speak to the mentality of the analogue photographer. There’s no hatred of digital photography, it’s more a case of perfecting an art through experience and not via shortcuts or actions. It’s also an expression of the desire to spend more time out shooting and less time editing. We are after all photographers and not colour correction professionals – well, nearly all of us are anyway.
I’m constantly amazed by the quality and consistency of Yusuf’s work and look forward to each new post on his website (which I highly recommend you visit). Please make sure you catch up with Yusuf on Instagram. I’ve been trying to convince him to join the vibrant community over on Twitter but as yet with little luck. There’s always hope!
That’s all for today but don’t lose heart, there’s plenty more to come this week. Can you hear jingle bells in the distance?
We’ll be back next week but in the meantime and as ever, keep shooting, folks!
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