COLOR ME INTRIGUED
JANUARY 10, 2022
Towards the summit
This is a small story of old and new. It's an old friend, an old mountain, an old camera. It's a new year, it's a new film stock, it's newly found appreciation. Let's kick off 2022.
I've never shot black and white. When I was a teenager, I sometimes edited my pictures into being black and white, because that's what was artsy and cool. But it was never my thing, and for the last few years, I haven't even thought about not shooting color. Color gives life, why would you give up on it?
In the spirit of trying new things in photography, I bought a couple rolls of Ilford FP4, a known but not necessarily popular film stock. I want to do some portraits with it soon, but first, I wanted to test it out in a domain I knew - snowy mountains. My friend Anna was in the mood to hike, so we went up my favourite easy winter peak - Hochgern.
A typical view
No soup for you
I've hiked that mountain many times, I know the views, and I've taken enough pictures in color. Still, on that day, I found myself missing it - the sunrays on the fir trees had the most beautiful golden shine, the snow was glowing in pastel blue, and I could just not capture it. On descent, I almost regretted not just bringing a roll of Portra, and snapped some pictures on my phone just to bring home some of the color. I couldn't have judged the outcome more wrongly.
When the scans came back, I was enchanted. There is an immediacy to those images, a plasticity that I've struggled to produce with other film stocks - or digital for that matter. Especially in the title image, the tree line seems like waiting to be touched, so three-dimensional and clear. This image definitely has awoken my appetite - I like the others, but you can clearly see my lack of experience with black and white. My eye is trained to think in color contrast, not in computing the shade of grey, so naturally I found myself very unsure about what motives would produce that clarity I look for. But that title image, that has really done something to me - and while I think I'll remain a color person for most of the time, there will be a roll of FP4 lying around my house at all times, just waiting for opportunities like this.
A clear line
The mountains look good as ever