Shooting Myself In The Foot
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by Josh Lee
2013 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
A few months ago I made an impulse buy on eBay: a Petri film camera. Total price: $28.50, a real steal compared to the three thousand dollar bodies and two thousand dollar lenses that are my main work horses.

About a week after that I got a box in the mail! It had arrived! It was beautiful. I love all things vintage and classic. And then for the two months after that, it sat on my tv table and just looked nice.

Then one day, while going through CVS, another impulse buy: a roll of $3 kodak film. What the heck, I'd decided not to buy the bag of gummy bears, I'd spend the money on art instead.

Another week passed by and the film was still in it's canister, sealed up in the cardboard box it came in.

Let me preface the following by owning up to the fact that I've unapologetically never shot film. Ever. I know, I know, I call myself a photographer and don't even know how to shoot manually on film, blah, blah, blah, and yes I always say I wished I could go back to New York in the 60's to take pictures, but when I say that I mean go back and do it with my modern-day Nikon D800.

So anyway. I had just received my new Nikon Df and wanted to go out and test it out! And why not, I thought, take the Petri out with me. It's small enough and light enough and it might be fun!

So out I went to Downtown Los Angeles in search of the most metropolitan scene one can find in LA. The Nikon handled beautifully, as expected, and I gotten the gorgeous film-noir images that I had been after.

Then it came to the Petri. What the hell? No power switch. Okay. No screen, hmm. I don't use the screen on my camera for view-finding but it is nice to see all your information in one place lit up for at a glance confirmation. It's like the screens in the cockpit of an aircraft. The pilot doesn't see through them but he uses them to guide him. I was literally like a pilot of a brand new Airbus A380 getting into the cockpit of a Boeing 707.

Dials. They all looked right, I guessed. I mean, digital or not, shutter speed and aperture are the same. And they looked about right for the current conditions. Focus? I guessed on that. I pulled back the handle-that-advances-the-film-thing, and fired the cable release.

And then instinctively I pulled the camera away from my eye to check the shot. But hey, guess what, ha ha, funny, no screen.

And so I went around shooting things and the feeling of being absolutely blind when it came to what the heck I was capturing had never been so polarizing. It was eerie and absolutely terrifying how final every image seemed to be. No do-overs. No take twos.

And speaking of final, after only covering a block, the damn thing stopped working. I checked everything on it. Shutter speed, aperture, focus, everything was in check.

And then I realized it: I had run out of exposures on the roll of film! My mind said: delete the ones you don't think came out well. Reality said: sucks for you, that ain't happening.

That night I gained two new perspectives: how lucky I am to live in a world with superb digital imaging machines, and how damn talented photographers back in the Stone Age had to have been. In all seriousness, though, whilst I hate every single person who takes a "landscape" with their iPhone, applies a bunch of hideous filters, posts it to Instagram, and calls them self a photographer, I have to admit that I wouldn't be one if not for the digital revolution.

Two days later I took my roll of film into CVS to get it developed, cause, you know, you can't just plug it into your computer.

A day after that I started writing this article.

And in a week or so I'll go and pick up my pictures. They're probably all out of focus and incorrectly exposed. Maybe I can sell them as abstract fine art or something.

Or maybe I just shot myself in the foot. But I have to admit I had a lot of fun doing it.