Fujifilm Velvia is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of films. Designed for nature and landscape photography, it’s characterized by deep saturation, redder-than-red reds and greener-than-green greens.
Of course, I don’t shoot film—I got into photography well into the digital era—but my trusty Fujifilm X-T2 digital camera has these wonderful film simulations baked in. This is where Fuji’s engineers have reverse-engineered the behaviours of some of their most popular and famous film emulsions (Provia, Astia, Acros and of course Velvia) and made them available as shooting modes directly in-camera.
Velvia 50 makes anything in sunlight look incredible. It makes warm colors warmer, while keeping everything else more vivid. It makes good dawn and afternoon light look even better than reality.
– Ken Rockwell
This afternoon I was walking around the garden, admiring my wife’s handiwork, where she had spent a part of the afternoon planting some seedlings. I hadn’t planned on taking any shots, but the light was just right, and I knew what I had to do.
Fujifilm X-T2, the magical XF56mmF1.2 R and Velvia film simulation
When 2018 was drawing to a close, I was exhausted from that year’s 365 project. A photo a day, every day, for a whole year. Not just sharing a daily picture, but taking a picture every day. It was getting harder and harder to find something I thought was worth shooting.
I swore I’d free myself from the shackles of the 365 on January 1.
And then something happened. I went for a walk with my wife on New Year’s Day. It was a beautiful, crisp winter’s day. The sky was an unbroken azure. We’d gotten some freezing rain earlier in the day (or was it on New Year’s Eve? It’s all fuzzy in my memory right now…) and the branches in the trees were glistening just so in the low winter sun. The light was just right. Naturally, I had my camera with me. I couldn’t not press the shutter.
Oh, what the hell. Let’s keep on going.
Was it FOMO? Probably. But of missing out on what, exactly?
I really don’t know.
The last time I’d decided not to do a 365 after a year “on” I felt a little lost. Shooting every day does develop a certain discipline, forces you to see the world in a certain way, makes you see—and seek—the light in everything; these are all good reflexes. And when you stop, it does seem a little strange.
Truth be told, I liked that discipline. That routine.
So I kept going.
But over the last month or so, I started wavering. Losing my mojo. I couldn’t see anymore. There was nothing left to see. Wake up, go to work (or work from home), come home, cook dinner, take the kids to their activities, watch some Netflix, go to bed. Every day. Rinse & repeat. Nothing to see here, folks.
Of course, that’s not true. There’s always something to see. But I wasn’t seeing it anymore. Not every day, at least.
And that’s the issue.
There are days that I can go out with my camera and shoot dozens or hundreds of shots. The light is just right. There’s so much to see. I could come home with several images that make me happy. I’d add those to my keepers file in Lightroom or Capture One. And I’d choose one for my 365, and maybe share a couple others here & there. But the majority of what I’d shot and like and want to share never got shared.
Because I was a slave to the 365.
Shoot something. Every. Single. Day.
So on days when the light wasn’t right (and trust me: 2019 has been chock full of days with shitty light so far) and subjects weren’t obviously jumping out at me, or on days where I was working from home (there were LOTS of those this year, too) and I never got out to see anything I haven’t already seen a million times, shooting became a chore. A burden. An albatross. No fun anymore.
I don’t want to just shoot something—anything—just because I have to, I want to make photographs because I genuinely want to. Photography to me is a hobby, a passion; not a “job” or an obligation.
So last Sunday, I shot my last 365 image for 2019. Just some random shit in the kitchen. Not inspired, not meaningful, not something I’m particularly proud of.
And that’s that. I’m out.
Don’t get me wrong: I think having done several 365 projects over the past 7 years (4 completed and 2 aborted attempts including this one) is arguably the best thing that could have ever happened to my photography and photographic skills. I’ve learned tons, made many Flickr mates from around the world that I consider friends and have benefitted immensely from the experience. If you want to improve your photography, do a 365. A 365 will hone your “eye” faster than anything, trust me.
So, I will continue to make photographs—on my own terms—and I will continue to share my work on Flickr, on Facebook, on Instagram, on my humble blog. I will share images I am happy with, images that I’m proud of, images that I wanted to make.