Saturday, 9 June 2012

Brompton II: Fuji 400H

Brompton Cemetery again, but this time with a Mamiya C33 loaded with Fuji 400H, a popular negative film. Fuji 400H didn't click with me until recently, the reason being that I was stuck in the digital mindset whereby you should never overexpose, not ever; never yield to overexposure, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the sun. "Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days."

This served me well with the slide film I have predominantly been shooting. Slide film does not cope well with overexposure. It is much like digital capture in that respect. Overexpose slide film and it looks like this:

Which is to say bloody awful. Washed out and dead, just like an overexposed digital photograph, or the corpse of a trawlerman lost at sea. No amount of tinkering with Photoshop will bring the colours back. In contrast, however, Fuji 400H doesn't mind overexposure at all. In fact it loves light. It begs you to ram light down its throat and spank it, and when you've finished it thanks you. Over the years its senses have become dulled, because it lives in a highly excited state of overstimulation. In that respect Fuji 400H is a metaphor for modern society. It craves the thing that kills it.

If you want to dance with Fuji 400H you have to throw away outdated notions of guilt and shame, and restraint, and unleash your animal self. Shoot towards the sun. Expose for the shadows, and then open the aperture up a tad more; add transgression to transgression. Most of these images were shot at 1/500, f/4 or f/2.8, even though it was a nice sunny day and I was using 400-speed film. This went against all my natural instincts. I felt sick and wrong, and at the end I had to stumble off, sweating and palpitating, so that I could be sick in private. The vomit and the tears mingled but the blood stayed in. Good.

"Oh, this is Hardcore:
there is no way back for you
Oh, this is Hardcore:
this is me on top of you"

Eventually you learn to feel nothing.

"Oh, that goes in there
Then that goes in there
Then that goes in there
Then that goes in there
And then it's over"