Sleep: Medium Format

Rinko Kawauchi is a Japanese fine art photographer. The subject of her photography is ordinary everyday life, which is captured in a manner that conveys a dreamlike serenity to the viewer. The lighting in her imagery is very soft and appears to be quite natural, yet the use of such soft and delicate lighting makes the images appear somewhat surreal and dreamlike. This use of light is something that I intend to use as an influence on my own work, as I think the etherial and dreamlike nature of it will help to create a perception of sleep.

As my main artist influence came from the work of Rinko Kawauchi, I felt it was important to experiment with using traditional film photography in my work, as Kawauchi uses traditional film photography in her work. I began by experimenting with some black and white films on a Medium Format Bronica box camera.

Using Kawauchi’s photographic style of capturing everyday moments, I began to photograph ordinary, everyday moments that I could find. Because the film is expensive, and (unlike digital photography) you have a limited number of shots to work with, I had to make sure that my shots were correctly set up before I took my photos, in order to try and avoid wasting the film. In order to set up my shots, I used the view finder on my DLSR camera to find the appropriate settings I would need to use on the Bronica camera. To do so I would put the ISO of the film into the ISO settings on the camera, and change the f-stop and shutter speed settings to settings that were the same on the Bronica camera, and picked settings which produced an image I was happy with. When choosing f-stop and shutter speed settings, I chose settings which would slightly overexpose the photo, in order to achieve the bright and etherial appearance of Kawauchi’s work that I was attempting to recreate in my own photography.

My first experiments with film were not quite what I had expected, when I had my films developed. Because I had been shooting with black and white film, many of the photos came out very highly contrasted, because I had been shooting with settings that would be more suited to colour film. This made the final images look quite dark and dramatic, which was almost the opposite of the light and etherial aesthetic I was trying to achieve.I then used a colour film on my next attempt with the Bronica Camera, and was much happier with the results, and they were much more like what I was aiming to achieve. In colour, the areas where I’d slightly overexposed the image looked much brighter and etherial, like in Kawauchi’s photography, rather than the high contrast effect I had got when using black and white film.

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