Mlle. F., (who is now) my (two year old) daughter and I jumped the low hollow stone and chicken wire wall from our backyard, over to the large carpark and lawn at the neighbouring church so she and I could (respectively) ride a trike and shoot some hoops. Mlle. F. chuckled and squealed with joy as she rode over the kerb from the grass and down the slight drainage gradient of the carpark, over, and over again. We had just been watching the latest round of the UCI MTB Dowhill world cup - perhaps she was emulating what she’d just seen. I tried to plonk a ball through the hoop which stands on the same edge of the carpark as Mlle. F.’s kerb - which a success rate of 1:20. One in twenty: I was lurid with self rage at my uselessness, whilst Mlle. F. seemed chuffed with her own efforts.
Mme. L. mandated that I shoot photos of her labouring our second child (Mlle. M.). I loaded a familiar camera with high speed black and white film and then awkwardly fumbled around as things got underway. I was struggling with finding the setting for aperture priority, and felt gangly trying frame a shot that was anything I liked. The aperture dial on my Leica IIIf was almost seized, and I freed it with a drop of oil - having done that I’ve started carrying it around, and I am shocked at how slow I am… I can’t guess exposure values and I frequently twist the lens lock out the wrong way. Fourteen of my cameras sat under a quilt of dust and cooking oil, some of them are gummy to use and I wonder if now beyond repair.
After a couple of futile efforts of writing poetry I jumped straight to the New Zealand zenith of publishing, Fergus Barrowman MNZM, asking for help and advice. Fuck. Me. I am a presumptuous prick. Of all the things I could have done to learn to write, I eschewed and went straight to a literary doyen. Did it, perhaps, occur to me that I could practice a little first?
Huh…, would it not occur to me that I could practice at any of the above endeavours? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah 10,000 hours, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam. [insert a peer reviewed and published piece of justification for practice].
This morning I spent a lovely couple of hours with Dr. Ken Johnson - who is well practiced: both as a respected physician and a deft dab-hand in the darkroom. I was so glad and appreciative of his time as we talked about the intricacies of his masking, dodging, burning and changing colours, contrast and exposure of papers. All of this he conducts in the darkroom! Which is to point out that he spends hours out of the dark room, too, stalking light and compositions. He is rewarded for his practice with stunning prints of rich textures, whole gamuts of black, grayscale and white tones, and complex contrast. Dr. Johnson has been practicing shooting black and white landscapes in 6x7 negatives for forty years.
I am usually rewarded, too, for my own diligence in repeating and reiterating my efforts, while being clever about it - gleaning tips and advice from literature and connections.
About time I wrote a post about cameras, it is in the title of the blog, after all.