W O R K S H O P I N L I S B O N.
By Erik Witsoe
For my birthday, we celebrated in Lisbon. My friend (Agnieszka) surprised me with an Analog Workshop where we not only learnt a bit about how to shoot and settings, etc, but we would actually develop the roll of film that day and leave with the negatives. I was very surprised and also just a little excited about this event. Now I know why she insisted we bring along the Nikon FM2.
The workshop itself is part of the AirBnB experience program and this one was hosted by Stefan, (@vagabundografia) an accomplished film shooter who also has his own darkroom. His b/w Analogue Photography Workshop started in the morning, where we met at the Jardim da Cerca da Graça park overlooking the city. Beautiful spot. Introductions were made and the lesson began promptly. Stefan took his time to understand each of our own experience levels and catered to our needs very well.
Soon we were on the street with a fresh roll of film to burn. We had the Nikon FM2 and Stefan had also brought an old Olympus for Agnieszka to use. Brushing up on the “Sunny 16” rule with him, we set out to play. No instructions as to what to shoot, that was entirely up to us, but he directed us to a really cool neighborhood close by to do some street work. We shot for an hour or so and then had a delicious lunch at a nearby spot recommended. With a few frames still left to burn we headed back to his place to develop.
The developing stage was super intimidating to me since I had not done this before - I didn’t want to blow the roll of film, but Stefan was really informative and helped us along the process very well, (well enough for me to be considering finding a spot here in Warsaw where I can develop my own film again at some point). I am pretty hooked after getting a chance to do it alone and have a better understanding of the work. The process is far from easy and it reminds me of baking (which I have done a lot of) - follow the recipe and get results, deviate and get different results. Alter ingredients and the recipe, time and method, get very different results. Simplified, but you get the drift.
All said and done we got to see the work in the negatives and to my surprise, the images were actually exposed really well. I was worried I might make a ton of errors, but really, his instruction was excellent and we stuck to the process. Having used digital for so long, the actual shooting was a little difficult at first because normally I can just shoot frames and not worry about it. But with film, I really had to consider the subject, the focus and the exposure…and then take the shot. After a few frames I was really into it and liked the slower, thoughtful aspect of shooting.
Once back in Warsaw I took the negatives to Czarno Biale to be worked up and prints made. Before the trip to Portugal, on a whim, I had also picked up a disposable FujiFilm camera and toted that with me occasionally snapping pics along the way, completing my role as tourist. So I also dropped off that roll of film. Then we waited…..perhaps the hardest part is this part. But also pretty gratifying.
In a few days I was back in the store picking up the prints and recalling feelings of high school again as this was a very common occurrence at that time.
I was pleased to see that the prints were fantastic. I loved the grain and the ‘contrasty’ nature of it. I could see that my style of image making hadn’t changed and the subjects I chose to shoot were also familiar. I had forgotten a bunch of the shots I took so I was really charged to see them and to have them as tangible objects in my hands.
All in all, a fantastic experience, a wonderful and memorable birthday present that gave me the gift of something tangible which is something that I have been really leaning more and more towards. Tangible. This was a lot of fun and I really couldn't recommend it more.