Friday, January 16, 2009


My second roll of 120 Ilford black and white 400 speed film shot with the white plastic Diana lomographic wunder-kamera came back as prints today. Disaster. Only two out of the twelve were in any way usable, and they are doing their best above. These were the last two pictures on the roll, taken as an afterthought to my main project, which was to photograph a few more of the Mission's narrow alleyways in the fading, slanting sunlight.

The out-in-the-street pictures were terrible in ways I had not anticipated, but I partly understand now what to do differently. Aim higher above the parked cars. Take better care of the camera so that a light leak from a jolt does not ruin numerous pictures. Shorten the time the shutter is open. Keep thumb away from lens.

And in fact the top picture above (that tunnel-like Spencer Alley hallway) does represent a small refinement over a similar earlier view. I managed to deepen the shadows (even though forgetting to hold the camera level). Seeing the print, I was at first puzzled by the circular spot of light against the front door, and then realized what it was. I had accidentally caught the reflected shape of the setting sun itself.

The Diana also deserves some recognition for the bottom picture of the ramshackle back stairs of a neighboring building, visible from the kitchen windows of Spencer Alley. Several times in the past I have tried to photograph those stairs with a digital camera, and never could catch the three-dimensional geometric patterns. The digital images looked like random lumber, where the Diana gave me enough depth and contrast to see the beginnings of a composition.