Searching for Clarity

There's nothing like a ride on my motorcycle through some quiet Texas backroads to clear my head. The purr of the engine silences my thoughts and the sights along the open road are a peaceful respite from city life. A camera usually accompanies me, although when I'm looking to get away and regain my mental clarity, taking photos isn't always a priority. I knew I wanted to ride more than shoot one Sunday afternoon. To keep myself on the task of riding meandering roads as much as possible, I took only a compact folding medium format camera a single roll of film. 12 shots. That was the limit I placed on myself.

I took my shots in a few small towns along my little trip. There was Briggs, Buckholts, Rogers, and Davilla that I can remember. A few old and lonely structures beckoned for my attention. As I sometimes do when I decide to shoot film in daylight, I didn't use a light meter. The exposures were educated guesses. It's not tough to do, especially during the day with black and white film. The Zeiss Ikon Nettax I carried in my small bag is a gift from a dear friend. Simple in operation while requiring a bit of skill and attention to detail. I'd find out later that I was a bit lacking in the latter that afternoon. 

The Nettax is a diminutive, bellowed camera of a different time. It is operated as much on instinct as procedure. A viewfinder separate from the lens helps one to frame a shot. The only focusing aid is a distance scale. A red dot on the small focusing ring helps the photographer find infinity focus. Red dot...well, maybe to someone else - not so much to my colorblind eyes. Too anxious to get back to riding, I setup what I thought was infinity focus by lining up the focus indicator with a dot on the ring. Had I bothered to take off my sunglasses and put on a pair of readers, perhaps I'd notice there was more than one dot on the focusing ring. Maybe there is only one red one, I don't know. Apparently that's not the one I chose.

12 shots were taken, 11 with the intent of focusing at infinity. One was shot with a closer distance in mind and I managed to adjust focus accordingly (meters vs feet...eh, close enough.) 12 shots, 11 blurry pictures. Ouch. Now, I am known to shoot deliberately blurry pictures sometimes with artistic intent. It would be nice to say this was one of those times. I meant to do that. Um...no, that's not true. If these were digital files I might well have deleted them. Medium format film...it would be such a waste. In spite of my carelessness, I actually like the way some of these turned out. The soft focus adds a bit of mood that I think fits with the scenes and my emotions of the day. 

I'm not holding anything back. Here is the whole roll. I edited these for contrast, along with some dodging and burning. When I work with film scans I try not to do anything that wouldn't be possible in a darkroom. These are processed more heavily than I would normally do in post production. The out of focus images reminded me a bit of Holga toy camera shots I've seen so I worked with that in mind. The Zeiss is no toy and I'll try to use it more carefully next time. Then again, there is a certain look here that kind of works. Maybe there will be more sloppy focusing in my future. Next time I'll do it because I meant it. Here's to happy accidents.

Zeiss Ikon Nettax, Fujifilm Acros 100 film