Monday, December 21, 2009

fumbling in the snow

like ants to a bowl of cheerios

Last night when I closed my eyes to go to sleep, all I could see was the mottled surface of snow. I spent a few hours walking through prospect park with my camera(s) yesterday morning, and it seemed like nearly every square inch of snow was disturbed by the feet of crying children and the parents trying to console them. It was almost comical how many kids were walking around bawling over how cold they were or whatever inane reason that shattered their world of the moment. I felt especially bad for one guy who had not one but three kids around the age of eight crying their eyes out as he ushered them to the grand army exit.

One of my favorite things about snow is the quietness of it. The other day someone told me that I fetishize austerity, which I of course denied, but the more I think about it, the more I agree. Less "morally strict" and more "markedly simple" (although if you ask charrow, I make everything a lot more complicated). Anyway, it's hard to find quiet in a city with about 35,000 people per square mile. But the sledders thinned out as I slogged my way further into the park, and I could finally hear the sound of my own footsteps. The only people willing to cut through the midsection of park were the cross country skiers, the occasional runner, and a friendly horseback rider. It was nice to feel like I was actually alone in the woods instead of like one more member of a congested snow globe.

Speaking of austerity, I brought 3 cameras to the park yesterday (there's a difference between fetish and execution): the holga, which I promptly dropped in the snow the moment I took it out of my bag, a canon F-1 SLR from the 70's and my regular digital SLR. I felt like a technowhore at one point because I had both SLRs slung over my shoulder for easy access. I haven't used a film camera since I was about 16, and it was a run of the mill automated squint and click camera. Using an SLR that required manual focusing and film advancing took some getting used to. Several times I had a shot lined up and pushed down on the shutter button only to find that I hadn't advanced the film since the last shot. It's kind of like driving a stick for the first time. You have about 5 different things to think about at any given moment and when you're first learning there's no fluidity to the process. Towards the end of my walk, I started to get the hang of it, but my digital reliance reared its head again when I tried to rewind the film. Having spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how to even open the film door (talk about IQ test flashbacks), I thought I knew how to rewind the film. But when I started cranking the rewind lever, I heard a few creaks and then the lever lost its tension, spinning around like a stripped screw.

In order to get the film out of the camera, I had to take it into the closet and figure out if it was jammed or if I could roll it up manually by turning the top of the film canister. As I fumbled around in the dark, I realized that the film had completely separated from the canister, so I had an empty canister on one side and a used roll of film on the other side. Not so useful. I called LTI, the photo lab I used to develop the Holga prints, and Justin walked me through the process of hand rolling the film so I could bring it in for development. This involved another trip to the closet and duct taping the cheap plastic film container because it wasn't the usual opaque version. Long story not so short, I am grateful that Justin was patient with my complete lack of knowledge once again, and hopefully my ridiculous efforts will be rewarded with a few decent photographs.

No comments: