Creating a daydream mood-board
Shooting film has so many variables that determine the outcome of the image - type of film, type of camera, type of film format, film expiry date, film speed, camera lens etc. The list goes on into eternity. I have a Nikon FE2 SLR with a pretty decent 50mm f1:1.4 lens that is relatively good for both daylight and low light photography. I find sometimes that in the pursuit of the perfect picture - one that purveys emotion and leaves the onlooker entranced at the captured moment - I forget to have fun with my camera. The more I focus on setting up a perfect shot, twisting and turning knobs and wheels to adjust shutter speed and aperture, the more often the photo I expected in my mind, is not the photo I get back from the lab. To be honest, I’m sure I don’t even know what all the settings on my camera even do.
I found some relief from my SLR frustrations in the form of a little 1966 toy camera - a Mekai EL point and shoot. The camera is square with a metal and plastic body manufactured in Japan and sold in toy stores. The camera feels fragile and screams analog. The shutter is a little turning mechanism that doesn't change speeds according to settings. In fact, the only settings the camera have are indicated on the aperture reading, which is indicated by a cloud (low light) a little sun (daylight) and for some reason a sailboat (bright daylight). Impressively enough the cloud functions also as flash sync which I tested and worked fine.
The camera is by no means professional. It almost immediately started rusting in the humid Brazillian climate and I almost lost various rolls of film from the dial to roll down the film malfunctioning. Not to talk about the bad focus and everpresent light leak. Now that my rant about the specs is over, I can tell you that I haven't had fun with a camera like this since I took a point and shoot to London and Berlin for the first time in 2016. The camera is more of a novelty than anything else. It can accompany you to places that would destroy your SLR. Splashing pool parties, sandy beach adventures, humid jungle treks and sweaty training sessions. Another plus is that it’s not invasive at all - in fact, it generates interest as it’s not your usual mainstream looking camera. People can grab it from your hand and take an out of focus selfie, you can hold it water level just above the waves to try to get a sunset reflection shot and wind down the film with hands greased with sunblock. Drops of salty water landing on the film as you wind in a new roll adds to the effects later discovered when you finally get your scans back from the lab.
The images received are often no more than a few crazy colours and out of focus light-leaked smears. But sometimes, you get grainy gold in the form of vivid daydreams, captured in single frames. Bright harsh sunlight falling on saturated colours makes you wonder whether the photo was taken recently or in fact removed from an old photo album or family archive.
I find that viewing the photos individually leaves you believing it's a bad or lazy shot, but viewing them as a whole, as a mood board, you get a feeling of a time long forgotten by this digital world today we live in today...
All photos were taken by me and are left unedited.
Shot Mekai EL
Kodak Colourplus 200
Photographs by Carl van der Linde
Story by Carl van der Linde