Finally some 4x5 on the blog!

Shot using my Toyo 45 CX large format camera with a Fujinon 135mm f/5.6 lens on Ilford Delta 100 Professional film and developed in a 1+25 concentration of Rodinal (substitute) for 9:00 using the “taco” method.  Scanned with an Epson V500 scanner.

On my last post (see it here), I spent some time talking about some of the technical aspects behind shooting, developing, and scanning these negatives so I figured I would avoid any technical discussion in this post.

One thing I did want to touch on is how photography has brought me into touch with so many great people.  The day I shot these it was bitterly cold outside (I think it was hovering around 0F) so I bundled up before heading out to get some more practice with my Toyo 45CX.

I’m not sure if it was the frigid temperatures or getting used to this extremely complicated camera, but I began getting really frustrated.  Not only did the cold make my hands feel like concrete, but it made my brain fog up pretty bad because I was thinking more about how cold I was instead of shooting photos.

All this snowballed into a bunch of negative thoughts such as how much the area I live in sucks.  How much I hate being cold.  How I make bad photographs.  How I’ll never learn to shoot this damn camera.

Then while shooting the first photo above, a car rolls up partially blocking my shot.  As I was about to add “stupid cars getting in the way of my stupid shot” to my list of negatives, the guy rolls down his window and asks if he’s in my shot before backing his car out of the way.  Cool!

After a while, I was under my hoodie (I’m not cool enough for a real dark cloth) finalizing focus before taking the shot and the same guy comes up to me and tells me how I have a great camera.  Apparently he had just moved here from Vancouver and had taken a few photo classes himself.  It’s really something how a brief conversation like that can lift your spirits.  Before parting ways he insisted I give him my website and we shook hands before going on with our days.

Unfortunately the good vibes were somewhat short-lived and those negative thoughts slowly crept back into my head.  After grabbing one more shot (which didn’t amount to much), I headed into a chain restaurant to get something to eat.

I won’t mention the name of the restaurant for reasons you’ll see in a second but I walked in to notice it was only me and the guy behind the counter working.  After cleaning the fog off my glasses, I walked up to (we’ll call him John) and said my usual,

"Hey man, how’s it going?"

"You don’t wan’t to know," John said.

Naturally we began talking and apparently his girlfriend of one and a half years just dumped him over the phone.  If there’s one thing I do well, it’s listen and give unbiased advice.  And after ringing me up he asked if he could join me and of course I said yes.

What began as a conversation about love and relationships eventually took a more philosophical turn about the darker side of life.  His bout with depression.  The scar from his previous suicide attempt.  His journey to make something of his life.

It was all a very humbling conversation.  Here I was getting frustrated with photography only to meet John and hear his story.  What happened as a chance encounter turned into an hour-long conversation that I’ll never forget.  

Did I mention I usually never go to this chain?  Or the fact that this location is in a spot 30 minutes away from my house that I only visit a few times a year?

It’s hard to believe all this happened by chance but it’s amazing how many people can’t help but talk to the guy with the weird film camera.  Maybe it’s because they understand that photography is intrinsically linked with storytelling and feel more open to share with a photographer for that reason.  Whatever it is, I can’t be thankful enough for meeting those two guys on the day I shot these photographs you see above.


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