We’ve all been saying “it’s been a weird year” for a while now. I’ve talked about it on the Podcast; other people have talked about it on their podcasts. This year has taken a bit away from my frequency of making photographs. I just haven’t been shooting much personal work this year.
I’ll Just Shoot Digital
When I did go out to shoot personal stuff I often just said to myself, “Eh, I’ll just shoot digital” and grab a digital camera and head out. And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with shooting digital. It just isn’t as rewarding to me as film is, but I figure it’ll just be simple, I’ll have the photos instantly, no extra work, no developing, scanning, etc. I just felt that if I wasn’t really into it in the first place, why put in all the extra work.
And Then I Answered My Own Question
Last week I decided to go downtown and do some night photography. Vegas is such a great place for that. Especially downtown where things can still have that kind of Old Vegas vibe. I had shot ten frames of a roll of Acros during a road trip to Death Valley with my buddy, Garrett and I figured I’d go ahead and finish the roll.
Being downtown on a Saturday night (still wearing mask and social distancing) felt good. It felt good. I had my favorite camera with me, M6, with my favorite lens, ‘cron 50, shooting my favorite film, Acros. And it was at night! I like a lot of black and dark tones in my photography and shooting at night is a great way to achieve this.
So, it felt good… even though I was in a bit of pain.
Funny Side Story
During our outing in Death Valley, Garrett and I decided to climb back into a location where there was an actual waterfall. I know, right!? A waterfall in Death Valley. We had to check that out!
We came to a spot that was as close as we could get with Garrett’s truck. We parked, grabbed our gear and started off on about a mile long hike up to find the falls.
It was a slight ascent up a trail that criss-crossed back and forth over a creek that was coming from the falls. Crossing the creek entailed stepping on small wet rocks, logs, tree branches, that kind of stuff.
About half way up, I was stepping on some nice slippery wet rocks and that’s okay if the other bank was dirt… dirt is not slippery. But, the other side bank was made up of solid rock. You can probably see where this is going.
“Down Goes Frazier”
So, I jump from the last rock in the stream to the other side and as soon as my right foot lands on the rock bank, it slides right out from under me and I’m going down.
Again, the bank is made of solid rock and my first thought is, “Protect the gear, dude!” So I did. I was carrying my Leica M262 with my favorite lens in my right hand and had my camera bag, an ONA Brixton messenger bag loaded with my M6 and film stuff, over my right shoulder.
So in just a split second all of my effort went in to holding my camera up and making sure I landed on my left side. And that’s exactly what happened.
Did I mention the area I was on was made of solid stone? Well that’s what I landed on, pretty hard, with my left should pretty much taking the bulk of the hit.
I got up, we had a good laugh at my adventure and continued up the path.
I could feel the pain in my left shoulder and realized I couldn’t really lift my left arm much at all. That’s fine. This kind of thing happens.
We finally reached the falls and that’s when I realized I probably wouldn’t be getting any good shots for the rest of the day.
Shooting with a Leica M camera is pretty much a mandatory two-handed event. My left hand holds the weight of the camera and also manually focuses the lens. Then the right hand clicks the shutter release.
I gave it a shot. I raised the camera to my eye (right hand), then lifted my left arm, reached for the camera with my left hand to try and focus the lens. Nope, wasn’t happening.
The One Handed Rangefinder Method (FAIL)
I tried doing it all with my right hand, but it wasn’t really working out. Above is a shot that Garrett took of me trying my one-handed shooting technique.
So even though I fell and didn’t get any shots of the falls, was it fun? Yep.
Okay, Back To The Original Post
So that was a couple weeks ago and my shoulder is mostly healed now. But last week when I was downtown shooting, even though I could use my left arm and hand to take shots, it was not a pain-free experience. But it still felt great.
It felt great to be out shooting at night; shooting cool old motel signs; using my favorite camera, lens and film. It felt great.
I’m so glad I didn’t compromise and shoot digital. I love the way these kind of shots look on Acros… the blacks and deep tones are so beautiful. It was definitely worth it.
How About You?
What’s your favorite camera to use? What are the subjects you like to shoot? I don’t care if you shoot film or digital or a Lego camera, but shoot what you like. Make the effort. I haven’t been that great at doing that this year, but I can’t recommend it enough. Even if you’re not really feeling it, make the effort. The rewards will be there.