Going analog: the sweet voice of the railtracks

The lady in the photoshop smiled slowly at me. It was already 16:25 and their schedule ends at 17:00. Somehow in that smile, I could reach in and grab those words she couldn’t speak: “The Zenit freak is here!“.

In spite of my thoughts, she welcomed me with:

-35 out of 36 shots! That’s a performance with a camera like that.

First of all: she freaking recognised me. It’s because I bother her with my crappy shots, coming in with that old Zenit. You can’t forget a guy like me. It’s not like she’s going to get 2-3 idiots, bringing a 30 years old camera with them, asking for the old dude to take out their film inside.

But… inside my mind, I became my own hero. The second roll of film was correct enough to have them scan those 35 shots?! WOW! For the first one, I got back with some 12 shots so I pictured that the rest of the count up to 36 must have been so bad that they considered the 0.10$/scanned shot I have to pay ARE JUST NOT WORTH IT!

But now…now! They had material to work with I guess.

Getting this camera to take the correct picture is not easy at first. And to be sincere, at this stage in its life, without the proper adjustments made by a professional and without the correct maintenance, this must be pretty much the best this camera can take. Still, you get used to it like you get used to an old bike. You get the hang out of it eventually… it’s not going to take Pulitzer worthy shots, and it’s gonna have flaws but heck! for me, it became that camera that is always in my car and I get to use it whenever I need to hear and feel that clicking sound of the trigger and shutter.

Don’t remember much about communism (I was just a child) but this must be more or less “the grain” of the “Golden Epoque“. I think I understood why they loved the Helios 44M back then, in spite of its clear flaws.

Going analog passing train

Because I had such a success rate on this film and because I used the camera in different instances, I will release it topic by topic. Why not eh?

I’ve got 35 shots but I would count up to 10-12 to be good enough just to throw them in a blog article. With the Zenit, even if the exposure is correct, some shots are totally out of focus on the subject. The long trip of the Helios until you get to the focal point you want can be a pain in the ass.

Because of the fact that we, Romanians, get to cross and intersect railroads a lot (and me especially ’cause I’m living in an industrial city), I took some 4 shots in the film dedicated to this.

Getting analog blocked railroad

We’ve got everything around, in what means old railroads, abandoned tracks, communist tracks connecting all sorts of bullshit industries to some other bullshit industry that today doesn’t produce anymore so the tracks haven’t been used anymore, small houses that shelter the guy who is in charge of blocking the street with the barrier when the train is coming, stray dogs, stray cats, all sort of garbage dumped around these abandoned areas. We only miss the high-speed trains but I bet that if communists would’ve had another 10 years in power I would photograph now that technology too. Sure, it wouldn’t work anymore because we wouldn’t have been maintaining it but that’s another story.

I took these photographs because each and every one of it represents a shot that I have memorised whenever I had passed around the places that they are set in and I have thought about how I would take the shots if I get the chance. It’s that mentality that I want to create a personal database of views that I want to remember. Nothing fancy, not incredible landscape or some out of the ordinary actions but rather those pieces of eye information that shivered down my brain in a very personal way.

Going analog the tracks dog

I think all photographers get that “personal fetish”, or more of them. Those certain large subjects (or topics if you’d like) that they compose on multiple occasions, trying to capture the essence of their internal feelings connected to it.

Because of this analogue incursion that I started, I’m thinking of going further and I will acquire a film Nikon or a Canon so I step a little bit further on the clarity scale of what a film can snap. Moreover, it seems that Kodak is bringing back its Kodachrome, after an intense request from the photographic community so next years will be interesting in this sense. When you are thinking about it, professional music and musicians are also taking a few steps back into the analogue technologies. It’s all coming back and that’s all thanks to the fact that real analogue conditions are very hard to copy and recreate on digital. The grain is unique over here, on the analogue side.

Still… I will not give up the Zenit because of its flaws. The fact that my camera has an issue and it’s vignetting on the left side of the picture, the fact that it lacks clarity on its margins and also the fact that the exposure is relative especially in low light, makes this camera special. More or less I guess it’s unique because of these flaws. I’ve got nothing better to do than use it as much as I can so I will get used to it and take shots based on the unique features time developed in it.



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