Welcome to the first installment of Ruby Tuesdays, a blog about music, photography, other kinds of art, and last but not least, skateboarding. And, maybe some other stuff. But, mainly those things.
So, I’m Ruben. At some point after getting hired here at Ambush, my name nickname became Ruby. I guess the Kaiser Chiefs song was playing or something…whatever. Ruby Tuesdays started with my homies on Instagram with pictures of me (#rubytuesdays, good luck sifting through all the restaurant pictures to find me). As an aspiring photographer, I love seeing stuff that people post on the ‘gram. That’s what I’m gonna talk about today, photography. More specifically, film photography.
Film photography is so undervalued these days. Convenience this, megapixels that. Everyone is too worried about immediate satisfaction. “Oh, I didn’t get a good enough shot out of the 300 I took just now, I’ll just edit it in photoshop.” I guess it’s just a consumerist mindset. “You shoot film? Psh, hipster!” Many people don’t understand that there’s so much more to shooting film than trying to be “hip”.
Film has substance. You are exposing light onto the emulsion on the film. A digital camera uses a sensor. Same concept, but it feels like digital cameras take away from that. They’re too artificial for me. Shooting film is so much more satisfying. You have to consider the situation: composition, exposure, and the right timing. Not that you don’t do that in digital, but you have to think out each picture so much more with film. Because each roll only has from 12-36 shots, depending on what you get. No memory card here. It’s harder than just pointing and shooting. And sometimes you can’t be positive of what you’ll get. There’s no LCD screen to check your picture on. Sometimes months will pass before you develop a roll of film and you forget what is on it. The thrill of finding out what you shot is so exciting. And the end result is much more satisfying.
The entire process is exhilarating. Especially when you get to the darkroom. That’s the best part, seeing your photo come to life. Setting up the chemicals, processing the film, drying it, and then seeing your negatives on a lightbox. That’s pretty cool. But printing, that’s even cooler. Picking your negative, enlarging it, focusing the grain, making test strips, finding the right exposure. Exposing your paper, and then developing it: developer, stop bath, fixer, water wash, fixer remover…awesome (and full of carcinogens, watch out!). Taking the final print out of the darkroom into the light and seeing it, man, that’s the best. Putting the photograph in the archival washer, and just seeing it, that’s satisfying.
Going from taking the picture to developing and printing it yourself, nothing beats that. It makes every photo count so much more because you worked hard to get your end result. You didn’t just take 100 and pick one, then import it into photoshop and throw a filter on it. You imagined, stopped, and managed to get the one you wanted within a couple of tries. I’ve spent hours on end in the darkroom, working ’til 2 in the morning trying to get the right exposure for the print. People do spend hours editing in photoshop. I’m not knocking that because it’s also a lot of work. But I like how “hands-on” film is. It’s hard. I’ve been in the darkroom and come out with nothing except for a general idea of how I’ll expose it, because it takes a lot of work and patience to get to that final print. But it’s all worth it.
And that’s when you get awesome shots like this recent one of Ray Barbee doing a backside 360, shot in black in white by Anthony Acosta.
The simple stuff is cool too. Here’s a polaroid I shot of Ray Barbee back when he last stopped by the shop. I got to hang out with him for a good hour, helped him find a camera on my lunch break, a had a good conversation with a good man. Best day ever. Polaroids are really cool, it’s nice to look back at one and think of the memories associated with it.
I’ve been shooting a lot of medium format and 35mm lately. I definitely need to take some more polaroids…we’ll see what happens.
I’ve only recently been able to print a couple of pictures, but here are a couple of scanned in negatives of my good old friend Zane Durfee.
That, all of that, is where the value in film lies. There’s so much more I need to learn, and I can’t wait. I love it. I hope someone gets inspired to get out and try this. Film or digital, just go take pictures. But remember film is not dead. Good luck!