spaces, filters, limitations & ruminations

red filter digital trickery, but in an old school kinda way…

Greetings folks, as promised in my last post, my friend Daniel and I went to Milan. I took my normal LUMIX, but put a red lens filter on it and shot square format monochrome the whole time we were there. The process was limiting in a very fun sort of way. When shooting in monochrome, you’re actually seeing the simulated effect of the red filter in the camera viewfinder. Nothing can replace shooting with TMAX 400 in a 35mm camera with the red filter, but this was an interesting experience—it made shooting digital somehow feel more special or unique. The color photos are from one of my favorite places in the world, Tipoteca and were shot in boring old normal raw format with my other DSLR, a Nikon D750.

I took the majority of the square format photos in Milano at Fondazione Prada, the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, and the ADI Museum. Given that I had gone to graduate school and basically learned to teach and make with my friend Daniel, it was awesome to reconnect with him—we talked a lot about making and teaching—and the general state of those things in 2022. When we were in grad school we used to meet at least once a week to discuss these things. Those conversations were extremely helpful and I didn’t realize how much I’d been missing them. Since we both had our cameras, we spent a lot of time lingering and discussing what we were seeing through the viewfinders, using the cameras more or less as laser pointers to guide our conversations. I found this experience both enjoyable and mindful in a sense given the slowed, intentional pace we established. I don’t think it would have worked with the phone cameras because of all the distractions and ease that come along with using your phone as a camera. That said, I’ve been using my phone lately to shoot a lot of stuff from the hip while hiking or mountain biking—where ease of quick access is essential. There is something appealing about having a tiny high quality camera with you at all times—even if it does come with the distractions. I suppose we need to become better and handling distractions. On the flip side, there is something extremely appealing about the intentionality shooting with an actual camera brings to the table. And this, ultimately was why I have my LUMIX set up to shoot in such a limited way. We’ve all been told sometimes it’s easier to make great work when there are strict limitations—these limitations ultimately encourage innovation in a best case scenario. I don’t really think there’s much going on with my B/W squares above in terms of innovation, but I can say the limitations forced me to examine the content I was framing in a deeper way.

Dang. It’s important to have someone to talk shop with. I do miss that. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been working in a gigantic vacuum since around 2012. I was never really able to connect with anyone in academia the way I did with Daniel and our weekly coffee talks and ongoing collaborations (DRUGTOWN R.I.P.). Writing in this journal certainly helps, but nothing can replace a few hours of good old shop talk. I’d say out here in Italy I talk more shop with my camera and myself than I do anyone else, lol. It would be good if I changed that. A good place to start would be balancing the ratio of self-talk with talk to other creative people about their work, process, outlook, etc. I’ve been doing that more lately and I’m finding many folks are grappling with the same issues I am—in particular with social media, privacy, the current state / direction of academia in America, etc. Guess I still have a lot to figure out. For now—focus on the constants—the viewfinder, the sketchbook—the making, the sharing?. Ciao.

Jarred Elrod, Photography