I got this idea from A Beautiful Mess book, to take a self-portrait (classy way of saying selfie) everyday for a month. In the book they take beautiful photos of people in meadows holding novelty lamps or something. I had less to work with. It was a rainy, grey September, and the selfie camera has clearly broken. You can see easily which pictures I took with the front camera and which ones were with the back one. Continue reading “Self-Portrait-a-Day”
A Beautiful Mess
A few weeks ago I went through the stack of craft books in my craft room, and one of them was A Beautiful Mess. It’s a blog by a few ladies who I think used to run a vintage store but now blog full time. They cover food, crafts, and clothing and style. It’s evolved in the last few years into a sleek lifestyle blog for better or worse. It’s the type of hipster lifestyle that I think I want but will never have. One where you can wander outside in a summer dress and dutch braids, where you do photo shoots against brick walls holding guitars, and where you spend autumn in pumpkin patches. Well where I live, no matter the season, it’s cold and rainy, there are no attractive faux urban backdrops to hand, and pumpkins exist for 1 week in a pile at the supermarket… I wonder how representative the photos on A Beautiful Mess are of their lives.
They sort of specialise in photography and there’s a lot of info and tips on their website. They also do sell some courses but I’ve never tried them. The book I have is a photo idea book, which has practical suggestions of what you can do with photographs such as personalised gift tags. It also has a lot of creative ways to take photographs, not so much with technical insight this is more about how make the picture interesting with backdrops and props. So if you want a nice instagram photo then this might be the book for you 🙂
Here’s a few shots of near my house, with a moody grey sky. These were taken with my Canon Ixus and 35mm APS film. I am quite impressed with the clarity of the image and the depth of field. I don’t have any really exciting to add to this. Not much is happening in the shots as I was just using up the roll!
I used my Canon Ixus camera, which is an electronic film camera when we went to Edinburgh in July (for that classic Scottish summer weather…) The film is APS 35mm, which is super easy to put in but pricey, hard to get hold of, and not that many places can develop it. But it’s easy to use and fairly reliable. This is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano about 250m above sea level. You can see the great view over Edinburgh, and all the little people having a trek around Arthur’s Seat.
And this is the Edinburgh Botanical Garden, well worth a visit. I love how the colours have come out in these photos. It was a much sunnier and brighter day so the camera handled it a lot better. I was also very impressed with the clarity of the images that came out, normally they are much grainier or blurrier.
I used my Canon Ixus camera, which is an electronic film camera whilst I was in Liverpool for a weekend in May. The Canon Ixus is very compact in size and easy to carry around but it’s a noisy little bugger. It makes that classic camera noise when it takes a picture, and whirs for about 10 mins when it’s rewinding the film. The film is APS 35mm, which is super easy to put in but pricey, hard to get hold of, and not that many places can develop it.
Above is a photo of the sculpture room in the Walker Art Gallery, and below is across the Mersey in New Brighton. We went to a little Bank Holiday fair next to the sea front which was nice. The grainy quality of the film, and that it’s over exposed does make it seem like it was taken in the 1980’s though. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Above is the sea at New Brighton, and this shot is really grainy but you can make out the wind turbines on the horizon. I’m not sure what makes it so grainy, I would imagine it’s the film as APS is no longer made so it’s all pretty old now. And below is a snap of some of the runners in the Liverpool Marathon that was taken place that weekend. I don’t think it really captures the energy of the moment though, they look like they could be walking. But you can see some of the beautiful and interesting buildings in Liverpool in the background.
I’ve been trying to do more film photography but it can be a bit of a pain. It’s defo not as easy as whipping out your phone, and the results are quite hit or miss. But these are some of my favourites from 2017 so far.
Below- Superlambanana near Albert Dock, Liverpool. Taken with Canon Ixus and APS film.
Below- Part of the Washington Memorial, Washington DC. Taken with Diana F+ and black and white film.
Below- Photographer dogs in New York City. Taken with Diana F+.
Below- Archway entrance to China Town, Liverpool. Taken with Canon Ixus with APS film.
Below- Cherry Blossom in Washington DC. Taken with Diana F+.
Below- Townhouses in Washington DC. Taken with Canon Ixus and APS film.
Below- Coney Island, Brooklyn. Taken with Canon Ixus and APS film.
I went to Liverpool on the bank holiday weekend and took my Canon Ixus camera with me. I’ve posted photos using that camera before, most recently from when I went to America. It’s an electric, analogue camera. So basically, it has film and a battery- both of which are expensive. It uses APS film which is super easy to use but gives a small field of vision. Meaning that less stuff fits in the photo than your used to, so you can easily crop things out accidentally.
Like most film cameras the Canon Ixus struggles in lower light levels. You can see in the top two images the difference it makes when the sun goes in! The top images is much crisper while the bottom one seems fuzzier. That’s a Superlambanana by the way. They crop up around Liverpool. Half banana, half sheep…or something.
Some of the best photos with my Diana F+ are the mad ones where there are multiple exposures on one frame. Above you can see the beautiful pinks of the cherry blossom in Washington DC’s tidal basin. You can also see on the left the faint image of the tidal basin and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. There’s a few things going on here. As well having multiple images superimposed over each other, it also hasn’t wound on enough so both images are cut off weirdly. Impossible to reproduce.
Above is the water front off Manhattan. Again the camera hasn’t wound on enough so the shots overlap. The problem is that they don’t make it clear how far you’re supposed to wind the windy thing to wind it on to the next shot so you have to guess. I underestimated the amount a few times clearly.
And this is a nice one round the back of my house when I was using up the film so I could get it sent off and developed!
I picked up the Diana F+ (without flash) a few years ago because it’s one of the cheapest cameras on the Lomography website! They describe it as ‘an analogue classic yet highly experimental camera’. There are some definite pros and cons with this camera. A I said, without the flash, it’s cheap. I bought mine for about £35. It’s mainly plastic so it’s really light, although that means it doesn’t feel very durable. The lens is the bit you’re paying for really, and this is what makes the camera seem bulky as you can’t retract the lens. You can get the Diana mini, which I have, which is rather cute. But the mini likes to literally eat the film! When I get the film developed they always tell me that it took longer because the film was all gnarled up. And when you open the back tiny bits of film fall out like confetti.
Also, a pet peeve, the lens cap is not attached so you can easily take it off then drop it in the sand dunes of Death Valley 3 yrs ago and not have anything to protect your lens…
Field of Vision
It takes 120 film as standard, and I got some good pictures in this format several years ago. But it also gives less frames for more money, and is harder to get developed than 35mm. So I quickly bought the 35mm back which allows you to use 35mm film instead. Whether this is the reason the field of vision is so rubbish, I don’t know. What you see when you look through the view finder and what the camera actually takes a photo of is totally different. Which is rather annoying! It means I constantly cut bits off things, and got a lot of shots of the middle of skyscrapers.
Winding On The Film
And the last great issue with the Diana F+ is that it’s very unclear how much to wind the film on, which is all part of the fun (apparently). There are no markings on the dial. Somewhere in the booklet I’m sure it said to turn it half way round, so that’s what I did. But you can see it wasn’t entirely effective and some of the frames overlapped. If you were canny about it then you could use it to your advantage and create unique images. I have had some cool effects from this, but mostly it just ends up being annoying. Especially with black and white film I think, it can be quite hard to see what’s going on in the image.
Check out more of my film photos. And please like and follow for more great posts!
My one true love is the Capitol Building in Washington DC. It should clearly by the White House because it’s better, and if I were President I would swap them over. (Less crazy than that stupid travel ban, right?) We had a great view of it near where we were staying, so I got to see it everyday. It’s so lovely and symmetrical. Of course in this image I managed to cut the bottom of. But the combination of my Canon Ixus and APS film give a much smaller field of vision than a digital camera. When I was researching APS film I read that that was the reason it was less popular.
Despite my love of the Capitol Building when I think of Washington DC, I think of the beautiful houses. I think these are ‘town houses’? We stayed in one via Air BnB, they are very spacious but long and thin. Although similar, they were all different colours. In the front yards of most of the houses were Martin Luther King quotes, and things like ‘no matter where you’re from I’m glad you’re my neighbour’.
The APS film that I used must be several years out of date, as it’s been long discontinued. Like a lot of film photography it adds a dreamy quality to the images.
The ISO was quite low at ISO 200. ISO 200 isn’t particularly light sensitive so it should have less ‘noise’ than higher ISO. But it also means it takes more time to capture an image so there’s more chance of shake and blur. It’s not the best choice for moving scenes.
I go so long between using my film cameras that I forget these things, often just looking them up again afterwards to figure out why all my pictures are so blurry and rubbish.
The auto focus in the Canon Ixus takes care of much of that so a low ISO is not a problem. And when I use it I get a very high proportion of my images back. I also used my Diana camera (pics to follow) which is much harder to use imo and most of the photos come back blurry.
Check out more of my film photos. And please like and follow for more great posts!