Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I remember the old days of photography, a fresh roll of Tri-X ,my Nikon FM and a nice sunny day made for some photography adventures.  Digital photography and the high capacity memory cards and live view photography has taken away some of the magic.  Blast away as many frames as you can and look almost instantly to see what your picture looks like.  That anticipation of waiting to see your negatives fresh out of the film developing tank is gone. Almost gone.

Enter the iPhone app 36.  This is a pretty cool idea.  It simulates a single roll of film.  You have 36 frames in black and white to take.  You can't see what the pictures look like until you have finished taking all 36 and even then the camera "develops" the pictures one by one.  This is not a blaze away for instant gratification of your images.  This is old school photography of sorts.

I headed out for this weekend's hike to Round Valley.  I decided to link two trails together for about an mile trip.  I would start out along the Miwok Trail to the Murphy Meadow loop and the finish with a climb along hardy Canyon.  With just my iPhone I would use the 36 app to record the hike.

I have a bunch of photography apps from panorama to Hipsmatic but 36 seemed different.  Not looking at the pictures until you are done with 36 images sounded the most interesting.  I wouldn't be able to check lighting, composition or focus , I would have to go with my gut instinct.

And then there was the fact that I would be limiting myself to 36 exposures.  Sure I could shoot more than one "roll" of film but it was the concept of like the old days, a limited number of frames available.  I would have to be choosy, more deliberate and certainly more careful in my selection of subject material.

I did a pretty good job of conserving my film.  I tried to stay away from the sweeping vistas of the countryside as much as I could and stick with studies of textures and lighting.  Looking back the app does not do the best of jobs with shadow detail but it sort of adds a vintage look.

I finished my last exposure near the end of my hike and then let the iPhone begin the laborious process of developing my shoot.  Honestly they could have made it a lot quicker but I guess they wanted to keep the idea of sending it out to processing  so you couldn't look at the pictures right away.

On the plus side part of the app's coolness is a contact sheet that pops up ready to send to your photo album, Facebook or Twitter account.  It looks a lot like the contact sheets from my black and white days in the darkroom.

Looking back at the hike with the 36 app it really did force me to slow down and think about my pictures more before I took them.  I had to think about which composition and angle worked the best or i would have to sacrifice two or more frames on the same scene, which I had to do a couple of times.

I will use the 36 app more in the future, it is a great way to make yourself slow down and think about your photography.  It would be nice if they could make a version of 36 to simulate a roll of Kodachrome slide film.  That would be a fun time remembering those colorful day behind the lens.