Let me begin by extending a very heartfelt apology for my absence over that last couple of months. It was not something that I had planned. One day in mid-September, what seemed like almost overnight my attitude toward my photography and this blog turned to one of extreme discontent. One might even say disdain. No longer was I pleased with the direction or look of my work. In my mind I might as well just be pointing my camera at objects haphazardly and randomly pressing the shutter release.
Gone was the desire to do anything photographically. Bulk rolling, chemical mixing, shooting, developing, the whole nine yards. Gone also was any desire to to interact on social media or keep up with those YouTube channels and blogs that I loved so well and formerly drew inspiration from. At this point I was at a loss for words for what was happening to me mentally. For nearly forty years photography had always been on my mind and in my blood. Not a day had gone by that I had not thought about and desired to perform some act of photography. Even in the darkest days of my past photography was there to help pull me out. It had always been there for me when nothing or no one else was. This was the first indication to myself just how deep into depression I had fallen. Never before had I turned my back on photography. And if I were honest with myself, at that moment I was not sure I would ever return. I was mortified, yet at the same time didn’t seem to care.
Then at the end of October COVID-19 hit me. Without going into details I will say that whatever desire there was left in me for much of anything quickly vanished. For the next week and a half I struggled to do much of anything other than drink water and attempt to eat and keep food down. Not an easy task when you can neither smell or taste. As I was coming out from under COVID’s nasty grip I came to the realization that I had to do something to break free from and claw my way out of this hole of depression I found myself in. If not for myself at least for my family and those around me.
Two things I knew would help me do that, if anything would. Firstly was my Faith, which when all else was gone was still there as a tiny ember. I clung to that and did my best to fan it back to burning coals. Secondly, I knew I had to rejuvenate my desire for photography. Deep inside I could sense a pain at the loss of photography as if I had lost some part of me, and I wanted it back. So after much pushing and prodding I finally forced myself to dig out my bulk loader of HP5 and rolled a 10 exposure roll and loaded it in my N8008s. I still had no desire to get out and shoot so I just shot things in my house with no regard to composition or meaning. The goal, after all, was just to shoot and hope that sparked the old feelings of shooting.
With the roll shot and loaded in the tank my thoughts turned to which developer to use. Oddly, I was curious as to how my batch of D23, which had now sat untouched for nearly two months, would perform. My guess was that it was “dead” but I didn’t care. The goal at the moment was to just complete the process in the hopes of rekindling my desire. So I dug the developer from it’s slumber in the closet and prepped it for use. I did a quick clip test just to prepare myself for what I may be facing and was not impressed. Still, I decided to move forward with it. The process was the goal, not results at this point. A quick check of my notes refreshed my memory that HP5 at box is 7 minutes in D23 stock. I set my timer for the required time and proceeded to process my first roll since early September.
After fixing and washing I finally was able to get a good look at the negatives as I hung them to dry. To my amazement they looked as good as negatives that I had developed a few months ago. Well, the frames that were properly exposed looked good, but, once again, end results was not the goal. This developer never ceases to amaze me. I have John Finch over at The Pictorial Planet to thank for introducing me to this wonderful developer.
The shot accompanying this post is from that roll. It is not artistic, inspiring or much of anything else other than correctly exposed and acceptably sharp. But what it does represent is my attempt to come back from one of the deepest depths of depression, dare I say despair, that I have ever felt. Has that attempt been successful? Only time will fully tell but for the moment I do feel some desire to pursue photography once again, even if it is just a flicker.
God Bless and Happy Shooting.