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Looking back over 2017

Nearly at the year end and I think this has been an interesting year for me on a number of fronts.

Film 

This has been the biggest thing 2017 for me. Although I start using film at then end of last year, this year has seen me start to develop my own back and white negs. Taking this further, as of Christmas day I’ll be in possession of chemicals for colour film development (more on this once I’ve actually had a go).

In 2018 I hope to take the film photography further by getting my hands a classic Leica SLR. I’m already obsessing over the Leica R-range and what I’ll be able to get hold of (R6.2 is perfect but crazy expensive, R7 cheaper but bigger and heavier as it has more electronics for the bells and whistles). I’m also fretting over which lens. Even more expensive than the camera, do I get a Summicron-R 50mm or a Leica Vario-Elmar-R 35-70 mm (the latter meaning I probably never need to fork out on another lens again).

I still have an old film in the Brownie to use up but I’m interested in buying new 120 film and doing to medium format (if I can figure out how best to scan these negs).

Instagram (@timrpbrown)

Much of this year has been spent uploading my back catalogue from Flickr into Instagram. An interesting exercise in seeing which images get many or not so many likes. I’m not that bothered about the number of followers I have (about 156 last time I looked but this yo-yos around these days). One thing I get from Instagram is that I look at a lot images but other photographers, and in many cases they’re very good, so this helps me learn and develop.

GuruShots (my profile)

This is my latest wheeze that I’ve playing around with for that last few weeks. It’s a photo gaming site where you enter your photos into challenges and see who many votes you get. Again, interesting to see what floats people’s boat. The odd thing is that it can be quite contextual: a photo used in one challenge scores highly – the same photo in a different challenge doesn’t. I’m trying to avoid reusing images now. Again, I seem to be working through the flickr back catalogue, but unlike Instagram, I’m seeking out a photo that will fit into challenge remit. What I’d really like to start doing is to see a new challenge listed and go out and shoot a image specifically for it.

Printing photos

I’ve started getting my photos printed (the loverly Saal Digital book being my favourite) but I’ve also produced 3 small books (via a free photo book app by FreePrints that’s not very free, it’s still £6 postage). My very first outing into arty photography when I was bout 14 years old saw me run off a roll of black and white using my Dad’s Prakita SLR (not sure what happened to that camera but the lenses live on as they fit my mostly never used Zenit EM). When I do the roll developed and printed I put them into a photo album and titled it “Obscura Camera” (see what I did there, clever huh….). So picking up on this, I’m titling my little books as the same; I’m up to Obscura Camera 3 and will produce another one in the next week or so.

The FreePrint people also have an app to print up to 44 “free” prints every month (£4 p and p): I’ve done this a couple of times but loose 6×4 photos don’t do it for me and I’ll just stick to books I think.

I’m an Artist, darling!

I think 2017 will be the year when I had the revelation that I was rotten at trying to produce a sellable image on ShutterStock and it dawned on me I’m an artist, so I don’t care if people like my photos or not, they are what they are. It was a liberating moment. This isn’t an excuse to not keep learning and critiquing my work, but I think you have to have the confidence to stand by what you do. Unlike professional photographers I have the luxury of not having to make a living out it, pros have to be (and are) brilliant at what they do, cos anything less and the mortgage doesn’t get paid.

My favourite photo of 2017

The negative got a little mangled in the development process and the damage seems to have given the image something extra, albeit a little odd

Man resting at the back door (Minolta X-300/50mm, Ilford XP2 400)

2018

The biggest highlight of the year was getting selected into one of Ted Forbes’ photo assignment videos (see previous post). I’ll try and see if I can repeat this feat in 2018. Otherwise I’m anticipating a film filled year, and with any luck that will include getting my hands a Leica and creating some keepers.

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