TK Roll 2015–15: The Deserted City (Minolta XE-5 with MD 35/2.8 lens, Kodak Ektar 100)

So no, no further fair pictures in this one. Seems I had my numbering confused, and the fair’s up again for roll 16.

Roll 15 was a continuation of my tests with the XE-5, and was shot with the same film and lens. I am coming to understand that I have a certain way of seeing that lends itself to certain types of equipment. Normal lenses and moderate wide angles. “What you see is what you get” kind of viewfinders – SLRs mostly, TLRs, and the occasional electronic viewfinder for digital. I like to know beforehand what will be on the negative, so I can get to the finished product with minimal cropping (usually just to standardize slightly differing picture frame dimensions to 2:3 format and sometimes straighten horizons).

The camera doesn’t need to be fast, but it needs to be portable. I often aim to produce calm, carefully composed pictures that look like they were taken on a tripod. But usually they are not. They are handheld moments found and committed to film in a way that emulates setup with a tripod, but couldn’t be taken by lugging around heavy equipment. The images preserve imperfections such as slightly crooked lines or things poking into frame that a more careful examination of the scene before pressing the shutter would have eliminated. In that way, to me at least, they are static, but alive.

The theme for this roll emerged when I forced myself to edit the 36 or so exposures on the roll of film down to 12. It feels like a good number. It allows a variety of images to be shown without needing to post every single one. It showcases the shots I like best without completely eliminating the ones that I rather might not have wanted people to see, due to subject matter (i.e. shots I now find less than interesting) or technical imperfections.

What went first were the images that had people in them. I had taken this roll while wandering around on a Sunday afternoon (as a way to force myself out of the house after doing a whole lot of nothing that day), and the city, usually bustling, sported pockets of stillness. Eyes of the hurricanes that define city life. The images, though often taken right after people left frame or before they would have entered – and in some cases, both – show where people usually are: streets, buildings, in cars and reflected in windows. But the people weren’t there when the shutter clicked. Sometimes I had to stand on a busy street, aware of cars, bikers, or pedestrians around me to achieve this effect. Sometimes I stood alone, as I did when looking at a construction site deserted on Sunday. Sometimes traffic rushed behind me. Sometimes I had my back as far up against a wall as possible to get everything in frame.

Most images on roll 15 were like this, so I edited out the few that were not and came up with a selection that emphasized the theme. The city was deserted. No one was here. Not even me.

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