Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0151, December 23, 2017


  Report From Lomoland

     The Lomographic Project: Item No. 003:
    "Still Life with an Apple" (new Polaroid color film vs. digital)

Copyright 2017 by S.W. Paul Wyszkowski

     With an estimated 90% of one's life done and over with, strange notions may occur to one, like the idea of reinventing oneself. Since there's always the temptation to just take it easy and coast gently (if possible) downhill from here to the end, such an intervention makes sense assuming one is determined to live 'til one dies. I am not one to "rage, rage, rage against the failing of the light" - rage is not my thing - but neither am I inclined to "go gently into that good night" which sounds like a huge bore. Fortunately, it's hardly possible to be bored in this world unless, of course, one stops paying attention in which case one really should get off at the nearest opportunity.

     While self-reinvention per se may be a good and even occasionally necessary thing at any age, including mine, not all reinvention schemes succeed. E.g., trading substance for style is not a good idea even if it does offer opportunities to be extravagantly inventive. There is much to be said for style as a grace note for substance but it will never do as a substitute for it. As illustrated hereinbelow.

     Take lomography. Please! Lomography entails the loopy idea of intentionally using bad photographic equipment in hope of accidentally creating something interesting. It was certainly not my intent to get into lomography when I acquired, for aesthetic and nostalgic reasons, the most stylish camera of the 20th century and very likely ever. I loved the ingenious and elegant Polaroid SX-70 folding camera from the time I first laid my eyes on it (in the 1970s) even though the instant color film it used sucked. I figured time would bring about the needed improvements. It didn't - digital photography brought an untimely end to that line of research. I still love the camera. As for the new color film currently available, it is distinctly not an improvement (see above). Lomography is pretty much all it's good for.

     (Technical note: the two side-by-side images above were made under identical lighting conditions, one with the SX-70 loaded with the new ISO 640 color film, the other with Fuji X-E1 16 megapixel digital camera set to ISO 800. I processed both images digitally to make them look as similar as possible.)

     All is not yet lost. There is now also black and white film available for SX-70 which may offer some genuinely new possibilities. I intend to pursue further my studies in chemical instant photography using this film. It has already yielded a couple of intriguing images. It's a way of forcing myself to look at the world differently. Or so I tell myself. Prickles, our resident gerontologist and a fierce hedgehog, has another hypothesis: "I think you're grasping at straws here," she says, "don't lock in on it to the exclusion of other ways of refreshing your creativity." So, you know of any good alternatives you could suggest? "Only for hedgehogs," she says and ambles off into the misty distance.