A bunch of friends from the Draw Club Rotterdam decided to plan a trip to the Natural History Museum Rotterdam to draw – of course I had to join!
When I’m on a deadline and have to use most of my working time to meet it, my mind always comes up with the most wonderful ideas and things to do. I guess that’s a natural thing; your brain is probably urged to look for quick wins instead of the hard task at hand. After finishing a rough deadline just at the end of January, I had time for these creative urges again!
I really felt like painting and study the fundamentals again. Maybe it’s because I struggled a bit with large assignment I had to wrap up last month – I think the immediate reason is twofold!
Firstly, I watch a Dutch tv show called Project Rembrandt, an artist competition for amateur painters. During the competition the participants have to complete technical excersises, such as life drawing and still life painting. Seeing other artists paint and practise really inspire me to do the same!
Though the show claims to be a contest for amateur painters, among the participants are a graphic designer, architect, game art student and illustrator. Appearently going to an art academy and having had painting lessons does not exclude one from the contest. I think that’s not entirely fair to the participants who had no creative training whatsoever. On the other hand, the people with creative professions didn’t get judged considerably higher or better; While our illustrator and game art student made it to the finals, so did our geologist. In the end it’s fun to watch, and that’s wat matters, isn’t it?
A trip to the Van Gogh museum
The second reason I really felt like painting lately is a visit to the Van Gogh Museum with my sister last week. Van Gogh is the prime example , perhaps even the origin of the troubled poor artist trope, but seeing his work does the same thing as the tv show: it makes me want to paint. You can feel his enthousiams and work ethic through his paintings, and that’s just really infectious!
But what his story also shows, perhaps, is that you can become an artist without formal training, and later in life too, if you persist. Van Gogh was 27 and had tried various studies and courses before he decided to become an artist. And even though he briefly studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels, he is mostly self-taught. I’m sure he would have loved the wealth of information and study material we have now at our fingertips with the internet.
I have a secret love for analog photography. Secret, because I don’t think my friends know I’m into shooting film. Maybe they think I like taking photos because they’ve seen me with my Nikon D3300, an entry-level DSLR. I dare to bet they’d be very surprised if I told them I also own a Russian wayfinder from the 70s and a Minolta X-700, back in the 80s quite state-of-the-art SLR, though! 😀 I believe I love analog photography so much because it juxtaposes art and technology, exactly what got me into video games too.
This love for film started during my stay in Prague. It was a windy day in June, about a week before I would go back to the Netherlands. While exploring the city I stumbled upon a flea market on the banks of the Vltava river. There were a few tables on a boat, and my eye fell on a table filled with vintage cameras. The guy behind the table saw my DLSR and we started talking. He was so enthousiastic, so in the end I did what I could never have guessed I’d ever do: I bought a Zorki 4, a Russian Leica clone, fully mechanical, build in the early 70s.
I bought it not just for the looks, I wanted to use it too. The reason I bought a DLSR was partly to learn to shoot in manual mode, adjusting the shutter speed and aperture by myself. Up to now I had been lazy, shooting all my photos in auto mode. With the Zorki, there is no lightmeter or program mode to help me decide which settings to use. This thing doesn’t even have an on/off button!
The first film I shot through the Zorki was on holiday with my family to Ireland. Sadly, the shutter had some issues, so only a few photo’s turned all right from that roll. It made me wonder, did I have to have my Zorki checked and cleaned by an expert? Understandingly, the thing is fifty years old, one cannot expect it to work flawlessy anymore. On the other side, a CLA (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust) would probably cost more than I paid for the camera itself.
I decided to roll with it, see if the problem persisted. I tested the shutter at different speeds with no film in it, and after a while it was behaving normal again. It also did it’s job with a piece of test film. Problem solved?
The real test came a month ago, when I decided to take my Zorki to a one-week holiday to Maastricht. This time I used a black and white film.
No shutter problems anymore! I have to say there was one photo on this roll of 36 that did have a white bar over it, but the photo was so dark I couldn’t figure out what it was again I tried to photograph. Either way I’m very happy with the results of this second try!
These photos here were my favorites, some turned out too dark or underlit. But that’s part of the learning process! After all, I have to calculate the right combination of shutter speed and aperture for each photograph individually, bound that I get it wrong sometimes. Next time I’ll try a roll with my Minolta, can’t wait!
It’s been already two weeks ago that we went to see the opening of our projection exhibition in Ústí nad Labem! The video above shows only a few of all the video’s made by us, but as they are played in an random order I didn’t film all of them. Here are some pictures of the opening, made by Foto Lumpe.
Our super cool flyer with the name of the exhibition (Signály na známa, signals to know), which is somewhat in line with the major exhibition, titled Jak si rozumět (how to understand each other). Shame that they didn’t get the date right, it should be 15.5 – 15.7.17. Oh well!