About two weeks ago I loaded my Canon EOS ELAN II (a used 35mm SLR released in 1995) with Lomography’s Metropolis. It’s a fun, low saturation, high contrast film. I was extremely happy with the results that I got. I’ve been shooting with a Konica T4 and my father’s old Canon AE1, so using the ELAN II felt like cheating because its light metering is much better than older cameras, and having autofocus makes a big difference. And I was using a Canon 50mm 1.2 EF lens, which is a bit dated, but twenty years ago when it was released it was pretty awesome.
I should also mention that Lomochrome Metropolis is a variable speed film which can be shot at 100, 200, and/or 400. I shot this at 200.
The entire, totally unedited 36 roll album is here and then what follows is a write up on some of my favorite pictures.
Picture Number 1: Dan at the Door
I took this picture while grabbing a beer with a friend. We stood at the back entrance of the brewery which was a well lit, large door. I regret not increasing the aperture size so that I could have a blurrier background.
I think I got lucky with this picture. If it hadn’t been for my friend’s beard, you might not be able to see his jawline because of how high the exposure is on his face. If this had been a different roll of film, his face might have looked blown out and overexposed. But because this is a high contrast film, I think it looks quite good: bright white, black not too far from each other and just enough details to provide some form.
I also got lucky because his chin is visible because of the white brick wall behind him. If it had been the dark stairs instead of the white brick, the silhouette of his face would have been less visible. Maybe it wasn’t entirely luck. Maybe there was some intuition and instinct behind the press of the shutter. I’m not sure. Regardless, I’m happy. This is one my favorite film pictures.
A slight crop, and this pic is good to go!
Picture 2: E, Serious and not Smiling
E, Serious and not Smiling 35mm Film, Machine House Brewing, Seattle, WA (August 2021)
E (for short) is one of three employees at Machine House Brewing in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. She keeps two of my 4×6 film prints behind the bar, including one from this roll of film and another one from a point and shoot camera, and that makes me really happy since I love the place so much. She’s chipper and high energy. Enthusiastic. Perhaps a little flighty when put on the spot with a camera pointed at her face. But overall good hearted. And I’m thankful she was so ready and willing to shoot with me.
E was on the verge of laughing. It was giddy, self-conscious, nervous laughter. And maybe there was a touch of fun petty-transgression since we were shooting while she was working. I felt like I had missed the mark as a photographer. I wish I could have helped make her just a bit more comfortable. Her lips are a bit pursed into a smile that is not quite a smile.
Or maybe it’s a genuine smile and laughter and I’m overthinking this. The truth is that we both had fun shooting, and she kept all the prints of her pictures. That’s a good thing. Value was created when this picture was developed.
Picture 3: Backlit Beer
Backlit Beer 35mm Film, Machine House Brewing, Seattle, WA (August 2021)
Here is another picture of Dan that could be greatly improved by a crop. The background is a little busy, but I’m okay with that because this picture wasn’t a part of a “real portrait session”. This almost qualifies as an environmental portrait, but the background doesn’t provide sufficient context. It’s definitely not fine art. But it’s a fun picture that looks good on social media.
I posted this picture to a Facebook group to ask for feedback. One user really liked this picture and asked me if I metered for shadows or highlights. But the truth is that I just had my camera on evaluative metering mode, which makes me think I should feel embarassed even though I don’t.
Picture 4: Too Many Legs
I saw these manikin parts in an alley while walking to a friend’s house. I took two pictures. As you can see from this picture, the lady in the cargo van was upset about having her picture taken. She gave me quite the scolding. I’ve decided to keep and post the picture since it is low resolution enough to preserve her anonymity.
Many Americans would be appalled by how very, very legal it is to have their picture taken in public.
Picture 5: An Urban Backpack
An Urban Backpack 35mm Film, International District, Seattle, WA (August 2021)
I remember taking this photo and thinking that it wasn’t going to come out well. It’s an okay photo, good enough for social media. But it’s better than I thought it was going to be, so next time you’re out, have faith.
Picture 5: no
I took this picture explicitly because I have seen online photography forums strictly forbid their members from posting pictures of railroad tracks because how cliche they are.
This film was fun as heck.
People like putting filters on social media because it can add a nice vibe. This is sort of the same thing, just more expensive. But at least when I use specialized film like this, I don’t feel like I’m violating my (not-yet-well-defined) sense of artistic integrity.
I bought more of this film and some of Lomography’s Purple film from B&H. Please buy from them and not large online retailers when you can. They ship super fast, and free if you spend enough, which I successfully did when I bought only a few rolls of film.