The Winterless North and the Leica Film M’s
By Jason Howe
Much earlier in the year I had some surgery on my knee, I can tell you there is plenty of time to think when you spend weeks sat around on the sofa watching daytime tv!! During these weeks of boredom I figured out a few things I needed and wanted to do once I was back on my feet.
Firstly I created my own little photography space, part darkroom and part office, this has been a huge advantage, no more migrating from room to room around the house. Secondly, I really wanted to get back to basics and shoot more film, not only did I want to shoot more film, I also wanted to take more ownership of the whole process. I got lucky and managed to pick up a relatively unused Jobo CPP2 with lift, an achievement in itself here in NZ. The tanks and reels I picked up from the helpful and equally awesome guys at Catlabs.
I few weeks ago I managed to fabricate another road-trip opportunity and with it a chance to visit another part of New Zealand, one that I haven’t explored before. As a continuation of my enthusiasm for shooting film I’d maybe crack out a Leica film camera or two for the trip.
Head to Cape Reinga at the extreme tip of the North Island, taking in a few other random places on the way. Experience has taught me to have a plan to fall back on but to follow my nose most of the time……
I have now mastered the art of travelling light, well lighter when it comes to gear.
I grabbed a random handful of films, well 24 rolls to be exact, safe in the knowledge that there’s absolutely no way I’d be able to shoot that many rolls in a few days but I did manage 12 which for me, is quite a lot.
Kodak Ektar 100
Kodak Portra 400
Agfa Vista 200
Fuji Superior 400
Fuji Velvia 50
Fuji Astia 100f
TRI X 400
I’ve developed the C41 films myself in the JOBO CPP2 using the same Digibase C41 Pre-mixed kit I’ve used recently. Likewise I’ve also developed the B&W, this time using XTOL. I’ve not got my E6 Chemicals yet so these were kindly developed by the awesome Film Soup.
Again, I’ve done this myself, I’m certainly still getting to grips with my current scanner.
There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet!! I don’t know where that saying originated but I can’t help but think it was based on someones experiences in New Zealand!!! People, especially in small towns are more likely to engage in conversation with a stranger, put a film camera in the strangers hand and they are more likely still!! Throw in an English accent and well you can pretty much speak to anyone, anywhere……..
I’m trying to be more present in the moment, less rushing around chasing photographs and more relaxing and just accepting what comes along. Obviously I huge part of photography is creating memories, not all images can be beautiful, nor should they be, I’ve included the image below to highlight that.
Whilst undoubtably slowing progress my continued inclination to drive down random side roads does yield the occasion benefit. I followed one such road for several kilometers until it eventually ended at a deserted white sand beach, deserted that is apart from a small campervan. You see these vans in NZ, half a million km’s on the clock, no doubt carried endless numbers of travelers around the island before eventually being sold on and on and on. It appeared to be empty but as I began to walk away from it a voice yelled out “Kia Ora Bro!” as I turned a face popped up in the rear window. Five minutes later and I was sat at a makeshift table and chairs sharing a cup of tea with this generous stranger. The kiwi’s call it having a yarn and as we sat putting the world to rights, sipping tea and discussing the beauty of the “winterless north” he made an admission…… “The truth is I was only hitting the road for a few weeks, in actual fact I was supposed to be back at work by now, well 2 months ago to be honest!!!” We cracked up, New Zealand can do this to you, “S**t! I need to do a lot better than you” I said.
For me, there’s always a period of reflection when you return from a trip. With the exception of the E6 processing, the dune and cloud shot, this entire analog post is my own work from start to finish. When you actually stop and think about the process it’s actually a little bit daunting, that said it’s also incredibly satisfying. Breaking it down, from seeing a photograph, executing the shot, developing the film and getting a scan you’re happy with there’s actually quite a lot of margin for error…..Had I shot these images on digital I’d have known immediately if I’d got the shot, there’s no risk to processing them and they could have been posted within a couple of days, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s a negative in fact most of the time that suits! Nor am I saying these are the best photographs I’ve ever taken, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that right now they are the ones that have given me the most satisfaction.
This is just a small extract of my trip, the entire post including processing details can be seen on my website HERE.