Monday, July 15, 2013

Blue sky. Really?

(Taken with Diana F+, 38mm super-wide angle lens, Lomography XPro Slide 200 120 film.)
I have been acting like a stalker lately, going through my photographs taken from a recent Japan trip using my Diana F+ again and again.

I like photography. My first camera is a Minolta single lens reflex (SLR) camera that my dad bought me when I was a student. Then I bought my first camera in 1994. It was an interesting choice. The made-in-China Seagull twin lens reflex (TLR) camera was all that I could afford at that time. It costs S$88. It was originally S$90 but the man gave me a S$2 discount, making it an auspicious number since Chinese New Year was just round the corner.

It was an interesting choice because I was a student then and I couldn't afford to buy too many rolls of film. We used 35mm film for our photography module in polytechnic and university, and so the bulk of our pocket money naturally went into the most common film format.

Then work and parenthood came along. Then digital photography. Bytes are cheaper than film. Later, like everyone else, I used phone apps to make lomography (i.e. lomo photographs) of my mobile phone photos.

You could say I've come full circle when it comes to photography.

One of my most favorite effects of lomography is yielded through cross processing. You can read the technical explanation here but one dumb-down example of the process is when you take slide film and process it using chemicals meant for normal print film/negatives.

That's when you get crazy, sometimes extreme, oversaturated colors like in the photo I took at a cow farm in Tokachi, Hokkaido. We were told to gather at this farm one late afternoon to see cows herded home. Good grief. It was someone's idea of fun but certainly not ours.

So I stood at the back of the crowd, trying to look interested but really I was watching the boys pretend to be superheroes by jumping off a piece of big rock. Then I thought why not take a picture of the damn cows just for the heck of it.

The sky was as blue and bright as it could ever be that day. But the result on film after cross processing was a beautiful distortion of the truth. That's why I love lomography. There's everything 'wrong' with your photograph but you can, or at least I do, see beauty in imperfection.

We would be happier if we stop seeking perfection all the time, I think. It's good to see life as it is.

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