Decaf Journal is reader-supported. When you buy links through our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy shooting film in part because of its lack of immediacy. That the process of taking a photograph and viewing it are separated by the development process and often scanning the negatives (or slides) into a digital format. Aesthetic rewards aside, there’s something satisfying about the delayed gratification of film photography that I keep coming back to. The very thing that I love about film is the exact reason my wife just can’t get into it. The feeling of having to wait for something in our fast paced digital world can be polarizing. You hate it or you love it. It’s the reason that Leica is able to sell the M10-D, a high end digital camera with no rear LCD screen to review images. Some people just love that feeling of waiting for something good, and I believe that a well composed photograph is indeed worth it.
In the spring of 2018, I shot a roll of black and white film just before and during my vacation in Hong Kong. All images were shot on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film, with a Zeiss Ikon ZM rangefinder and Zeiss C Sonnar T* 50mm f/1.5 ZM lens. At the moment, I’m partial to Ilford HP5 over most other black and white films because it scans quite flat in terms of highlights and shadows, so I can add contrast exactly where I want to in post production. A digital darkroom of dodging and burning if you will.
I wasn’t excited about the pictures I was taking at the time, and I figured most of them were throwaways. After getting the film developed, I genuinely wasn’t interested in seeing how the pictures turned out. I cut the negatives into strips of 6 images each, and filed them away in my archival binder only to be forgotten as I continued to scan the color film rolls from my trip.
Looking back nearly two years later, I love seeing how they turned out. Without knowing it, I had turned that roll into a time capsule. The memories of those days came flooding back, and it was such a nice feeling to relive those moments. The bridge over water in one of the images doesn’t even exist anymore, the buildings then under construction have since been completed, my toddler isn’t nearly as chubby these days, and Hong Kong is currently caught up in political uncertainty. Yet, time stands still in these frames.