Roll #2: A Sophomore Slump?

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

"A photograph isn't necessarily a lie, but nor is it the truth. It's more of a fleeting, subjective impression. What I most like about photography is the moment that you can't anticipate: you have to be constantly watching for it, ready to welcome the unexpected." - Martine Franck

The American Rome. The Capital of the World. Hollywood for Ugly People. Donald’s Playground. Chocolate City. All nicknames guessed it, Washington, D.C. I am now wading ankle deep in the river of film photography. At this point in time, I still hadn’t developed the roll from my Canon AE-1, so, in order to increase the odds of getting a properly exposed roll, I decided to diversify (in effect, double) my camera portfolio. After a thorough search of ebay, I narrowed my sights on a used Canon Sure Shot Zoom XL. I don’t know if it was the size, funky appearance, or pro-grade lens, but I needed to have it. So naturally, I bought it. About week later, the beauty arrived ready to go! Pinch me I must be dreaming….batteries included?! As soon as it was out of the box, I powered it on. Like a bear after a long winter, the camera slowly came to life. Zoom worked. Flash worked. Focus appeared to work (although I wouldn’t be able to confirm until after processing a roll).

Having concerns about the expired 800 speed color film left to me by my grandfather, I decided to make yet another purchase: Four rolls of 24 exposure Fujifilm Fujicolor 200 for $8.78. The day after arrival, we decided to take a trip down to DC. No plans, just explore. Entering the city, we were swollowed by a thick fog. A fog which covered the capital, rendering it a floating, almost majestic, edifice. So close to majesty in fact that it had to rain. After lamenting the downturn in our luck, we had a decision to make: What to do? We could head back to the car and head home. Or, we could take shelter in the Capitol Building and explore. The pictures will indicate, we chose the latter.

With tourist crowds eerily nonexistent, we make the next tour. As we embarked on the tour, I began to feel something strange. Something we had in abundance at the beginning of the tour was now scarce. With every step of the tour, light simply disappeared. Blame it on the politicians. Blame it on an attempt to preserve photosensitive history. Regardless of the reason, I realized I had made a terrible decision. I had purchased cheap 200 speed film for an old camera with a slow lens. To make matters worse, I was in darkness. Not mile-deep-into-a-cave darkness but a darkness which would cause significant strain should one feel the hankering to read some Shakespeare. Undeterred, or foolish, I snapped away. “Oh light bulbs!” *click* “The dome of the Capitol Building?!” *double click*

Eventually we made our way to the Library of Congress through a not so super-secret underground tunnel. Hey go to that balcony and look off into the distance! *click*As we transitioned outside the clicking became faster and more furious. “Lady with an umbrella!” *click* “Go climb those stairs…but put your hood up so people can’t tell I’m taking multiple pictures of the same person!” *click!* “Another lady with an umbrella?!” *click*

Interestingly, despite the rate at which I was taking pictures, I found myself thinking about the capture; more so than when I am using a more forgiving, digital medium. Things started to matter. The composition. How steadily I could hold the camera. The lighting. Movement. Everything. The joy was beginning to come back. Click by click.

Camera: Canon Sure Shot Zoom XL

Film: Fujifilm Fujicolor 200

Where: Washington, D.C.

When: November 2018

View of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Inside the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Capitol on a rainy day. Washington, D.C.
Capitol fresco in Washington, D.C.
Library of Congress stair climb. Washington, D.C.
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