Detroit is a city where the environment itself takes center stage and needs no actors, a scene and setting so ghostly unnerving that one seemingly enters a land outside of time, a post-apocalyptic playground frozen in charred stillness, awaiting future inhabitants.
It is a beautiful and frightening place, and in the tension between curiosity and revulsion I found untold artistic inspiration. A part of me needs to experience places like this in order to feel alive, to feel the sinewy tautness of real human struggle against all odds, against seemingly crushing decay and despair. The people I met there and the others I learned about during my stay all love their home through the good and the bad, and that was enough to convince me of another form of unlikely beauty that exists in Detroit. Thank you to all of them and to the interesting, dynamic city that inspired these photos.
In honor of an upcoming journey back to the chaos and adventure that is South America, here are some medium format film shots from my last trip to Colombia and the Amazon River.
All images were shot with an old, rickety Yashica Mat-124G on Kodak Ektar 100 film, with the help of a light meter app on my iPhone 4s, and edited in Photoshop CS4 from high resolution film scans.
In my last few On The Road installments, I posted lots of iPhone photos from a trip across the Pacific early this year. During my stops in Hawaii and New Zealand I also shot several rolls of medium format film, which I finally processed recently.
All of these images were shot with an old, rickety Yashica Mat-124G, with the help of a light meter app on my iPhone 4s, and edited in Photoshop CS4 from high resolution film scans.
My recent post about medium format photography adventures reminded me of the last time I had some fun with it, in 2009 when my parents were in town for a visit. My photographer friend got ahold of a loaner Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format camera and a tilt-shift lens for the occasion, and I dug out some expired old film to see what would happen. Here are my favorite images from that day.
(Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format with tilt-shift lens on Fujicolor Reala 100. Negative scan to digital, Photoshop)
(Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format with tilt-shift lens on Ilford Delta 3200 Pro. Negative scan to digital, Photoshop)
A few weeks ago I spent two quick but relaxing days in the Middle Of Nowhere, rediscovering my medium format camera with some long-expired film, then hoped and prayed for some advantageous developing defects (which can be unpredictable on old color film). Lacking traditional darkroom access and skill, I get high resolution scans of my negatives, and do all editing in the “digital darkroom” with Photoshop CS4. For the non-purist photographer, this mixed-media, mixed-era process creates a satisfying blend of traditional and modern aesthetics, while exponentially increasing one’s creative options.
Guadalupe Mountains, West Texas
(Mamiya 645E medium format with 80mm f/2.8 on Kodak Plus X-Pan Pro 125. Negative scan to digital, Photoshop)
(Mamiya 645E medium format with 80mm f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400UC. Negative scan to digital, Photoshop)