On Boxing Day 2015 I started a 365 project. The goal is to post a photo every single day for an entire year. It was an exciting idea at the time and I dived into it without much thought. I saw it as an opportunity to practice the entire process from the shutter to publishing.
Over the last two years I have been enjoying shooting film again. However, I had not personally developed a roll of film in over 10 years. Shortly after I made the decision to start, my box of goodies arrived from B&H with everything I needed to begin developing. I choose Kodak XTOL for my developer as I liked the smooth tones and got the Paterson Universal tank kit. Tri-X can be a grainy film depending on how its exposed, but I generally meter in the shadows for ISO 200 to ensure I overexpose. The metering technique that I learned from Johnny Patience, provided me with pleasing grain and tones for my portraits.
It was quite early into the project that I stopped carrying my light meter. My goal was to become comfortable with trusting my eyes to read light and estimate the exposure. This may sound risky, but it gives a sense of freedom when photographing that makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. Besides, the exposure latitude of Tri-X is very forgiving!
I wanted to photograph a few people for my 365 but I tried not to let the project dictate my day. In most instances the moments you see below occurred naturally, without direction. I met some challenges along the way, from learning to crack open the film canister carefully inside a black bag and thread it onto the development spool, to having negatives drying with water marks. This was quite frustrating at times, removing water marks by hand with a cloth, trying hard not the scratch the negatives in the process. Originally I was using a Kodak Fixer which was kept in a bulk 5 litres. I ended up changing to the Ilford Rapid Fixer which is stored in concentrate and mixed just before using. It beat storing 5 litres of fixer and gave me the water mark free results I was looking for. I experimented with different areas to dry the negatives too. From hanging it overnight in the shower, to placing it outside on a clothes rack for half hour. I am undecided as to which method is best, it really is trial and error based on your circumstances.
I made the decision at the start of April to stop my 365. Ultimately there were a few factors that influenced my decision. I just left a job I had working as a film scanner operator. Working with film was a rewarding experience to refine my colour correction skills, but it had become increasing difficult in Sydney without the support and appreciation that it deserves. I needed to take a break from film and give myself a chance to miss it again. Photography is a pursuit that you have to put your heart and soul into. I need to be honest when I feel as though I am not in the right place to do that. When I can't give it the commitment it requires, the art will suffer and ultimately so will my happiness. It was at this time that I chose to pursue wedding photography. It provided me with a greater satisfaction than I had experienced before with my photography. The reward I get from capturing the emotions and the uniqueness of the people was the next creative challenge that I craved.
The skills of estimating exposure and developing film practiced in those few months I am proud to take with me. I cherish having a collection of memories with the people and places who shared their time with me. I have since resumed shooting film again.
Every photo was captured on a Leica M2 with the 50mm f/2 Summicron lens using Kodak Tri-X 400 film.