Roll 5

Well! This roll is a little frustrating to look at. A cursory scroll through the photos shows quite a lot of blurring. Some cool framing, scenes, and subjects-- but overall, a significant amount of blurriness.

But there are some positives here! I really like that I'm trying to take more photos of people. They add character and dimension that shots without them never will. A point of concern earlier in my journey into the world of photography, I realize now that people bring photographs to life. I really like image 13-- a picture of just a small section of the Manhattan Bridge, taken while walking across-- but it doesn't even compare with image 5, the picture of the guy holding balloon animals in Washington Square Park. Why? Because people are weird. And I love weird. Because I am weird (and too into using italics for emphasis). People cause a viewer to linger longer on an image. They ask questions. 'Who is he?' 'Why is he holding those balloons?' 'What caught his attention?' 'WHAT is he wearing?' (I just wish the frame could shift to the left juuuust a bit).

Even though I just dragged them through the mud, I also still enjoy the shots without people. The ramen sign? Obviously I love that. Definitely going to give neon signs more attention in the future. There's something about the glow that I think could be lost in a color roll, too. One image that I like despite some either light leak or scanning issues is image 19, that of the fire escapes. I've been trying to find a pattern or style evident in my photos, without presciptively making it happen. As a friend recently pointed out, and evidenced here, I like lines. :-) Lots and lots of lines. This picture I took last year is very soothing to me. Look at how each chunk of fence frames something different, each a bunch of lines (or dots, for the rocky area).

As an aside, I'm disappointed on a personal level that the pictures of my friends being cute on the subway aren't clear. They're adorable together and in the moment I felt the thrill of a pseudo photo shoot. It helped that they had fun with it, and there are people all around to fill out the frames.

So what did I learn? Lighting at night is hard. Movement is hard. Proper exposure times and types are hard. Taking photographs on a moving subway is just not gonna work with a Nikon F3 that is older than me / without some kind of assistance. Double exposures involving movement are either a no-go or at least one of the exposures better be stationary. If you're gonna do long exposures, especially at night, make sure the camera is firmly planted-- humans are not rocks, they will move, despite your good balance. MORE PEOPLE IN PICTURES, YOU GOON. That balloon guy picture is great! More of that, please. <3

Roll 4

Oh yes.

While there are some serious disappointments in this album, there are some photographs that I'm really happy with. By this time in my trip (still in Lisbon), I was more comfortable with the camera in public. Part of me thinks it was the language barrier and the fact that I was traveling alone. No one to comment, criticize, or affect me in any way. I love traveling by myself anyway, so this was a perfect opportunity. I thrived.

For many of these photographs (3, 6, 15, 29 especially) I focused on, well, focusing on the foreground with something scenic off in the distance. I think they mostly work out well. I really like images like these because you force texture, context, and depth on the viewer. My brain processes multiple things at once, so I want you to get as close as I can get you to what I saw while I stood where I stood and shot what I shot.

Throughout this entire album, I'm reminded how easy it can be to shoot when you're surrounded by beauty. In all honesty, I could've gone through forty rolls in four days, not just two. I'm just employing a judicious eye. Lisbon is an incredibly beautiful town with expression in every inch. Rarely did I turn a corner and not see a wall worth touching to see what it felt like or a color on a house that was bright, vibrant, and calling out for my attention. Many of my favorite images from this roll highlight just that. They were walls or homes or spots that I passed literally every day, sometimes more than once. They were compelling or interesting for some reason and made me feel Emotions/Things every time I passed. So I had to capture them. Images 1, 22, 31, and 33 hit this one dead-on. I still can't believe I passed views like that every day.

EXPERIMENTS! This is where, by and large, all of the disappointments on this roll live. 2, 5, 7, 11, 12, 13 were all attempts at double-exposure. There was one corner where I waited for the trolly to go up and down then back again so I could shoot from another angle. I felt so professional! ...Only to be taken down a peg by reality. If you look at the bunch I highlight above, you'll notice that most are washed out and overexposed. That's because I did not compensate for double-exposing the film by a quick shutter click, oh no. I held it open because I wanted the movement of the trolley car to be visible in the image. Of course, when it's the middle of summer and it's very sunny out, your lens will drink up plenty of those rays-- and that's exactly what happened. 11 and 12 are the closest I came to pulling that off. Gonna have to work on that...

My favorite from this roll is difficult to say. 1, 3, 15, 17, 23 are all contenders. But I think 16 is the one for me. After wandering around Sintra (about 45 mins outside of Lisbon) for a few hours, exploring ancient castlegrounds (seen in some of the pictures here) and an opulent private residence-- a palace, basically-- I needed food. After trying to find this one. specific. place. for about thirty minutes, I settled on a tiny restaurant near where I was hunting for a Well-Reviewed Place On The Internet. Lo and behold, this was the place. Conveniently, I rejected the sweet old lady who invited me in to cook for me no more than ten minutes prior because I was intent on eating at Well-Reviewed Place on the Internet. This was the place. Let this be a lesson to you kids... Anyway, she insisted on serving me delicious food and wine like the wonderful human she is, and then sent me on my way back to Lisbon. While waiting for the next train, I explored. As I ambled up this street, I spied the old lady yelling up to her friend (?) in the window, who was, of course, yelling down to her. While I found it adorable, I couldn't ruin the moment by taking a picture. So I meekly strolled by, barely making eye contact, muttering an 'olá' or 'tudo bem' to them both, trying not to interrupt their conversation. After making it about thirty yards past them both, faced with a dramatic increase in grade (which my Body Full of An Entire Bottle of Wine could not handle), I turned back. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the two women were still talking. After making it about 20 yards past them, I quickly turned around, snapped, and ran.

Roll 3

Roll 3, you heartbreaker, you.

Upon arriving in Lisbon, I decided the best way to shoot it was with black and white film. The color in the city is so vibrant, so alive, you could feel it. Sometimes the best B&W photographs are those of colorful subjects. Furthermore, I think black and white is incredibly effective in high temperatures. I'm not sure why, but I, as a viewer, find it easier to feel the heat of a scene in black and white sometimes.

Overall, I'm happy with what's here. I wish My finger (or something else in the foreground) wasn't a blurry distraction in front of the classic streetcar in the Alfama neighborhood. The framing is adequate for most, and I can feel the warmth of the city in these images.

Of course, there are only five photographs here. What gives? Well... either when inserting the film or removing the film (I can't recall clearly), I exposed the roll to sunlight. Stupid, stupid, stupid. As a result, an entire day of photography is gone now. It's very frustrating to say the least, but once again: it's a good lesson to learn. I've since improved how I handle the film to make it, effectively, idiot-proof (me-proof).

My favorite photograph is the last, number 5. I remember taking a few photos of that street. There were always pigeons there for some reason. The first snap got me very excited-- I thought I caught them in flight, on the perfectly-lit street. I was sure it'd be hung on my wall someday. Always humbling to face our failures, isn't it? ;-) Anyway, what I really like about this photograph is the depth of light and darkness-- moreso than the others in this roll-- with much of the light coming in one thin strip on the right, immediately alongside the darkest light in our view. What also makes me happy about this one is just how much there is to see. The shirt hanging outside a window, the pigeons congregating, the building off in the distance, the graffiti in the foreground. This feels like a photo I could come back to in ten years and find something new. So it's a keeper. :-)

Roll 2

I am infinitely happier with this roll than Roll 1. There are photographs in here that I am not just happy to share with others, I'm dying to share them. 

Tactically, I didn't try anything crazy. You'll notice a bunch are taken from the street, roughly around sunset, with the camera either facing directly into the sun or with it at my back.

The man walking into the sunset and the man sitting on the bench gazing at the Brooklyn Bridge are by far the best, in my opinion. Realizing this changed my approach since I shot this roll. Historically, I shy away from taking photos with people in them. Psych analysis aside, I simply preferred the cleaner lines and absence of another person's perspective in the image.

What I mean is: if I take a photograph to show you a scene, I am showing you my point of view. If there is another person in that photograph, the viewer considers that person. The viewer is no longer considering what I want to show them. This is, of course, absurdly selfish. And a good lesson to learn!

Since learning that lesson, my focus moved to include more people in photographs. I didn't quite learn it on the next roll just yet, but by the time I got back to New York (the next roll is a Travelin' Roll!), I decided to focus more on people.

Roll 1

This roll spans a long time. I started it during the blizzard in January of 2016 and kept going through June or July. The blizzard finally inspired me enough to grab the camera my grandfather left and snap a few pictures. More than anything, I feared the conspicuous nature of photography. You stand out. You are no longer a participant, but an observer. As a resident of New York, I generally prefer to blend in and quietly view the world around me, acting as an ant on the highway rather than an eighteen-wheeler. That consciousness distracted me from focusing on what was in the frame early on.

Further emphasizing my newb-ness is that my camera (a Nikon F3) has an exposure count up to 48, but the individual roll only went up to 24. Ouch. I've lost a bunch of photos as a result of that one. Did not learn it until about three rolls in to this experiment...

The first image is actually an important one. When I took it, I made a mental note that it would mark the beginning of my exploration of my creative side. Sure, I've casually drawn with pen and ink, or did a mega crazy insane way awesome brain dump with dry-erase markers on my giant dry-erase board, but this was different. I (eventually) took my camera out in the wild. I (eventually) felt confident with it in my hands. While many of the pictures are either 1/ poor quality or 2/ uninspired, this shot of the BQE from below will always be close to my heart.

Refreshing is the effect of fresh eyes on not-so-fresh images. The photos of snowy buildings (taken from my apartment window) are views that I've seen for nearly 1.5 years, but there's something about the color balance on some that really work. They take the mundane building behind mine (maybe that's too harsh for beautiful brownstone BedStuy) and make them old, worn, experienced-- in short, interesting. I could hardly ask for much more from my first roll of film!

Overall, I think this roll accurately reflects my abilities and my sight as a casual photographer. I'm happy to leave it behind, but it represents an important stepping stone in my growth as a Human With a Camera in My Hand.