film

Tokyo Film Scans

The feeling of picking up your developed film is so exciting, and has a certain air of nostalgia to it as well. I was really excited to pick up two rolls that I had shot in Tokyo last year, because I couldn’t remember what was on them.

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These frames are all from test shoots with models from Folio Management in Tokyo’s Minato ward. They were taken on 35mm film that I rolled myself back in highschool, but had not yet shot. Hence the little imperfections like dust, scratches, and leaks. I actually love these features and think they give extra character to the frames. Because the film was so old, I had no idea if it had been exposed, or if it would even look any good. These shots were digitally scanned, but no retouching or adjustments have been made. Not even exposure or contrast adjustments. They are completely raw.

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I find that there is something really ‘real’ about film photos. I tend to look at them for longer, rather than skim over them quickly as I might with digital photos. There seems to be a part of the subject’s soul in these frames, as if they are really looking at me. This might sound weird, but that’s how I feel. I think film also has a timeless sort of look to it.

When I was in Hokkaido earlier this year, I went one step further and purchased a disposable camera from the convenience store there. I’ve been shooting single frames on it, but still haven’t finished it. So I’m really interested in what is on that camera. The suspense is all part of the excitement. I also like the way that having such an “ammeter” camera removes a certain barrier when shooting. Nobody seems to notice or care if I put the $10 disposable to my eye, whereas they may change their behaviour or shy away if I raise my DSLR. Observing the difference in psychology is interesting.

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Strangers at F1.8

In Tokyo last year I challenged myself to walk up to random strangers on the street and take their portrait. I had a roll of black and white Ilford, and a plastic 50mm lens. I am inherently shy, so asking people if I can take their portrait is pretty intimidating. With my lens choice, I had to be close, and I also wanted to capture engaged (rather than candid) portraits.

These are a few of my favourite ones. I spent quite a while talking to the man in the glasses, after taking about 15 minutes to work up the courage to approach him. He was dressed very eccentrically in bright colours, and was sort of pacing on the spot in Akihabara. He seemed like a real character, but from the way he was moving I wasn’t sure if he had been drinking for a while or not. But I knew I’d kick myself in the butt if I didn’t at least try to ask him. He ended up being really really lovely, and I talked to him for a good 20 minutes. He told me about how he made his own earrings out of metal and bottle tops. He had a very calm, gentle nature and complimented my terrible Japanese. I’m so glad that I got to speak with him and learn a little about his life.

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This girl is one of the many school kids who approached me at Asakusa shrine to ask “what is your country” and “what is your favourite Japanese food?” If you have ever been to Asakusa shrine, you will know that being bombarded by school kids is to be expected if you are a foreigner. I think that the English teachers all take their classes there, as this happens literally every time I go. In any case, this girl was part of a group of 5 that were asking me the aforementioned deep and philosophical questions. Because the ice was already broken, I took the opportunity to ask her to take a picture.

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I kind of cheated on the last one, it’s my friend’s son. Isn’t he just a nugget! Gorgeous light from the balcony door.

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Finally, a non-portrait. This may look like somewhere in developing Asia, but it is actually a game arcade in Kawasaki that is designed and fitted out to look this way. The design is actually more interesting than the games themselves (in my opinion.) It is meant to look like the slums of Hong Kong, and the attention to detail is amazing! To get in you have to cross a misty aqua body of water, carefully stepping on rocks. The doors also make noises as you go through. It’s called Anata No Warehouse (あなたのウェアハウス). I loved the hanging chickens.

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Grandparents On Film

Something a bit different today. Avid followers will know that I was born in Tasmania, and a lot of my family still lives there. I moved over to Melbourne when I was 4 or so, so I consider myself more of a Melbournian (“what do you mean this coffee isn’t small batch?!”) but I still try to make it back to the island every Christmas.

I’m lucky in that I still have three grandparents, and they are all fit and healthy. Especially in recent years, I have become more and more appreciative of the fact that they are still around, but also more aware that this won’t be the case forever. It’s not a nice thing to think about, and most of the time I don’t contemplate it, but sometimes it is important to remember that not everything is permanent.

But let’s not go there.

Last year I found a whole heap of black and white Ilford that I had rolled in high-school, so I decided to start shooting a few frames here and there every so often. I use a small Canon film camera, and I love it because it’s so tiny, but it also fits all of the lenses from my usual kit. I prefer, however, to use it with the cheapest plastic lens I have- a 50mm. This lens weighs next to nothing, and looks cheap and nasty, but there is something about it that I love- the shallow depth of field, the way it vignettes really badly… it’s the stuff dreams are made of haha.

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So I took this camera with me to Tasmania over Christmas last year, as I had shot some film in Tokyo and wanted to finish off the roll. I also wanted to take some portraits of my grandparents, because everything just looks great on film, and I thought they might be good for the ‘ol family albums.

Above are my paternal grandparents. These are straight out of camera, but I got the negatives scanned and put on a CD. No adjustments at all. I love the way that film looks so real. So much depth and tone, even with no processing. To me, it’s like looking at a small part of each person.

My grandma is known for her world-famous potatoes, and has kept every letter from every grandchild ever written (once I discovered this archive, I was a lot more careful what I wrote!). My grandad is a photographer (maybe that’s where I got it from?), and his framed prints of the many mountains he has climbed line the hallway in their house. Both of them will annihilate you at Scrabble.

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On my mother’s side, I have just one grandparent. Everyone calls him Popsie. I’m absolutely in love with this candid photo of him in the garden. Popsie grows the best vegetables, and I always look forward to eating them when I go back over there. He has a dog named Zeus, who will come up to you and put his foot on you. Whenever we stay with Popsie, mum always tries to buy him some new form of technology. He’s mastered the usage of cordless phones and the digital set-top box, but he narrowly escaped being set up with an Optus mobile phone plan this January.