19,000 Blank Canvases

Feb 11th 2010: Travel

This is what pure potential looks like!

The silver grain of 19,000 blank canvases waiting to be exposed to the light, frame by frame, over the next few months. And then waiting to be developed, their emulsion swelling from the liquid, until the unexposed salts are being washed away by the fixer to reveal the final image. Can you feel the film? Can you smell the fixer? Very, VERY exciting.

There can be no more fitting beginning to this blog than showing the “before” image: 500 blank, unexposed rolls of Arista Premium, a wonderful TX400 substitute. They’ll be traveling snuggly tugged away in my carry-on suitcase straight down to Buenos Aires and hopefully won’t raise too much suspicion with the TSA.

During my studies over the last three years I exposed almost 200 rolls of film, where about two thirds of them were shot in the last year alone, usually five rolls a week. Dedicating myself full-time and shipping 500 rolls to BA will allow for 3-4 rolls per day. It’s hard to gauge whether that’s way too much or way too little. At $8 a roll in BA (vs $2.50 in the US) I’m hoping it to be a conservative estimate. Keep in mind that Robert Frank shot 28,000 images for The Americans over a period of 8-9 months and I think I should be set.

The film will easily impose itself to be the biggest component of the traveling camera equipment. Their companions will be one beloved Leica M7, the heart of my equipment and my most precious belonging, two Leica lenses (50mm, 35mm), one light meter, one Canon S90, one laptop, one film development tank, and two litres of Rodinal film developer. Apart from the film, it will be light traveling indeed. Clothing and other secondary items will have to travel with the checked baggage.

These rolls of film are a great example of what I am setting myself up for, providing some indication of magnitude, and represent what I am excited to spend the next year of my life on. But as I generally despise equipment posts, I promise to keep them to an absolute minimum going forward. German beer promise!

Posted in Travel by Ernst Bruening on February 11th, 2010 at 9:02 am.

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