4 Rolls, 3 Days, 2 Colors, 1 Saint Petersburg, 0 Lies
For over a month now I’ve been working on a black and white film project using Hasselblad medium format camera. Now the series of documentary photographs from St. Petersburg is online HERE (Behance Network). To know more about this project continue reading.
In October we got a mission at school: “First you get 4 rolls of film, you go shoot something, take 4 more rolls and after you’re done you have to show us your stuff. Developed.”
Well everything seemed to start off quite smoothly. I had it all planned out and would have been photographed landscapes and waterscapes with a twist. (I wont tell you any details though, because I still like the original idea!)
The problem was that my plan was even too ambitious and when our schedule finally was fully revealed I just knew it wouldn’t happen. I mean, we had only two to three weeks time to photograph while I would have been ready to do so for two to three months.
Speaking of bad timing, the original concept included swimming in the ocean in one frame – and already then there was snow in the ground…
In the end my project changed its shape quite spontaniously. I had planned to visit St. Petersburg anyway, so to get everything out of the trip I just got myself four rolls of Ilford Delta 400 films, took the Hasselblad 503 CX and Carl Zeiss lenses and departed with them.
Here’s the beauty I’m talking about, by the way:
Canon EOS 5D, EF 300mm f/4L USM, 2x 430EX triggered w/ ST-E2, red LED lights
In the first place the whole purpose for photographing during this trip was to test the camera’s functionality outdoors and to shoot just for fun. I wasn’t actually thinking about the assignment we had, let alone building the entire project on top of these photographs.
Surprisingly, the four rolls of film were more than enough for me thanks to my shooting style. I seldom took more than a single frame per situation, so this way I got the chance to document numerous different moments with just a handful of frames. I didn’t have to worry about different exposures either, as I always carried a lighting meter with me wherever I went.
Man putting finishing touches on Finljandski vokzal a week before the new Allegro train is scheduled to start going to Helsinki
In St. Petersburg I came across with the same things as always, very little has changed during the past years. Maybe the cars look more expensive, the youth’s looks have evolved and the city centre has become more tourist-friendly, but overall the common people struggle with the same old problems.
Of course the wealthiness of some is obvious, but while the rich get richer the poor get poorer. What’s special about this though, is that many of the people who don’t have much seem very kind and shine with life and confidence.
I think they just don’t have as much to lose as those who are hidden behind countless of doors, gates and locks in their villas. And there’s a lot of those people too, I’m telling ya.
When I came back to Finland I couldn’t wait for developing the exposed films. To be honest, I was a little anxious about it too, as something could go wrong and I’d lose some great material as I did when I was developing for my first time. But you gotta do what you gotta do. (Here’s a link to a post featuring that occasion)
Luckily everything went as supposed to and no photos were lost.
100% crop of a negative scanned at approximately 3000 dpi
In the darkroom I spent around 20 hours developing the images to a size of 30 cm x 30 cm. I could have done them even bigger as thanks to the big 6 cm x 6 cm negatives the images are so rich in details. But then again, we didn’t get any bigger papers so I maxed them out already.
Significally influenced by Dan Winter’s photography (here’s his homepage) I decided to leave the original negatives’ borders visible in the final images as they bring some sort of realism to the photos and I really like how they look.
The workspace with enlargers
It's finished! The exhibition with mine and others' works is visible at our school. Kannaksenkatu 22 B, Lahti. Second floor
So check out the series of 39 documentary photos here, if you haven’t already. And be sure you hit the play button at the beginning!