Introduction by Skip Cohen
Last year one of the best guest posts of 2013 was written by Liz Huston. What made it so remarkable was the honesty with which Liz described her own burnout. She couldn't have been more candid in talking about recognizing the signs that her passion an artist was on its way to drying up.
Liz wrote: "This is uncomfortable to admit. As creative professionals we want to believe that our passion is inexhaustible, enthusiasm is our fuel, and talent is natural. When we bump up against the places where it’s not fueled by passion, it can get a little frightening. The questioning begins and one has two choices; to look for inspiration or to simply give up."
Well, it's been almost seven months since that first guest post from Liz and once again, she's returned to Peru and provided us with a great dose of inspiration, but there's a little more to the story. Here's the background on these images and the post:
"For this piece, I went experimental.... A few weeks ago I went back to Peru. This time I ventured deep into the Amazon jungle, housed in a very remote area, on an ecological preserve. I took a big risk, artistically, in that during my trip I shot only with film. I used my Tamron 2.8 24-70mm on a Canon EOS 2000 35mm body. I had no idea if this combination was going to work, as the research I did before I left gave little information. Imagine my elation as the film came back to me late last week, and it totally worked!
I realize that I'm taking a big chance by writing a post like this, because it's a bit from left field, more nostalgic than modern. But maybe it will inspire other film lovers to experiment with film and Tamron."
Thanks Liz, you did exactly what you promised!
A big thanks to all my friends at Tamron USA for great glass and bringing Liz into our lives! You can check out more of Liz's work on her site. You won't be disappointed.
My photographic journey began in a time before digital cameras. Shooting with film was a magical process; made even more special in the darkroom. I would spend hours in that dark space, watching with bated breath, as the images came to life under a dim red bulb. That was over 20 years ago.
In the decades since, my photography slowly transferred to digital, as is the case with most photographers, until I shot exclusively with my DSLRs. The ease and clarity of the digital images quickly won me over, but still, I kept a refrigerator full of my favorite films, hoping that one day I would find the time and the inclination to pick them up again. I watched, as the production of my favorite film stocks were increasingly cancelled, and the film canisters in my refrigerator became like precious jewels.
A month ago, I traveled to the Peruvian Amazon jungle for vacation and rest. Prior to the trip, I was playing around with an older 35mm Canon rebel SLR body, wondering if my favorite modern Tamron lens (the 2.8 24-70mm) would be compatible with it, since they are both electronically driven, as opposed to the older, mechanical types. My trip was coming up in a couple of days, and in a decision rooted in the spirit of curiosity, I decided to take the risk to shoot entirely with film.
Armed with my Tamron 2.8 24-70mm lens, the EOS 2000 35mm body, and a dozen rolls of new and expired film stock, I set out on a 20 hour flight deep into the jungle; a vacation turned into an adventure rooted in the spirit of photography.
Once the film was processed and the proof sheets returned to me, I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of this modern lens in such conditions. The expired film had issues with light leaks and exposure sensitivity, but yielded a few happy favorite images. Most of my favorite images, however, were shot with new 200 ISO black and white infrared film stock.The infrared film aspect added another unknown variable, which, in the field, only increased my interest and curiosity.
Shooting under the dark jungle canopy, I rarely moved my aperture from 2.8. I shot in full manual mode, however, just in case, and using the shutter speed to change my exposure. While bathed in darkness under the large trees of the primordial forest, I pushed the 200 ISO film two stops, shooting it at 800. It was difficult to capture the brightness of the light filtering in through the tops of the trees, while simultaneously exposing for the dark dark ground, as sometimes there was 5 whole stops difference between them, but ultimately I am pleased with the results.
One of the challenges was that I had forgotten what it was like to commit to an ISO, for the lighting conditions quickly changed once we reached a magical place the locals call, “The Lost Lake”. No longer under the thick canopy of the rainforest, the sky was a cloudy and bright white, illuminating the landscape in a nice even light. I could have easily captured great images at 200iso - but I was locked in at 800 for another 15 frames.
The exercise of precious limited exposures, the commitment of the ISO choice, the manual focusing and manual exposure calculations were a wonderful exercise in the qualities that drew me into photography in the first place. I am not giving up DSLRs anytime soon, but also will not hesitate when the inclination arises once more, to experiment with film.