Thursday, April 9, 2015

this purple city

This past Christmas, my boyfriend's parents gave me a gift certificate to Adorama (a local camera store). I knew immediately what I was going to get - the Lomography Diana Mini, a 35mm film camera that I had my eyes set on for quite some time. Like many (many) amateur photographers, I grew up using film cameras but switched over to digital pretty much as soon as I could get my hands on an affordable model. If the shoeboxes of photos that still lie underneath my bed in my parent's house are any indication, I stopped regularly using film sometime around 2003/2004; incidentally, I distinctly remember spending about five hours in a Best Buy as I carefully poured over and picked out the prized camera that would accompany me on my semester abroad in Europe.

But the thrill of analogue photography has stayed with me all these years - there are obviously a million reasons why digital photography is much easier/cheaper/convenient/etc. than traditional film photography, but I will never forget the magic that I felt while developing my own film in the darkroom of the community college where I took a black and white film class one summer.

So back to the Diana camera. I'd been looking to get back in to analogue photography, if not to the extent that I install a darkroom in my bathroom, then at the least I shoot a couple rolls here and there just to see what happens. And in the true spirit of "see what happens," I unearthed a few rolls of film that I had been carting around in a box since quite possibly the last millennium. Now, I KNOW that I had not treated those rolls with any care or concern. I'm sure that at one point I kept them in the freezer like any good photographer knows to do, but after half a dozen moves across almost as many states, those rolls didn't stand a chance. But rather than throw them away, I decided to see what, if any, kind of pictures they'd produce.

The first chance I got to play with my old film in my new camera was during the New York Blizzard That Wasn't. Since I was blessedly given a day off from rehearsal, I was able to wander around the neighborhood and photograph all three inches of snow. The resulting pictures aren't great - they're blown out, they're not framed particularly well, and they all have a slightly purple/grey tinge to them. But I kind of love them! They seem to show an Astoria from another era, one that has yet to be hit with Photoshop and immediately perfect Instagram filters.

I used up the end of the roll on a day trip to the Dia art museum in Beacon, NY. Not too many of those images turned out (I think it was too dark in most of the galleries), but I did get one cool picture from a Richard Serra installation. I'm not 100% sure if the quality of the pictures is a result of the old film, the novelty-nature of the camera, or (most likely) a combination of both those factors, but I have another roll out for processing and am working my way through a third, and am so happy I rekindled my love of analogue photography. I just can't for the life of me figure out what took me so long!

These photos were shot on a Lomography Diana Mini camera with Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400 film, developed at my local Duane Reade, and scanned into my computer; none of the pictures have been digitally retouched.

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