365 No Peek

  • Dates: September 1, 2017 - August 31, 2018
  • Camera: Nikon F4s
  • Lens: Nikkor 1.8/50 D
  • Film: Kodak Ektar 100 (2 rolls)

Next month kicks off a project cooked up on the Against the Grain podcast this month. The project stemmed from a discussion, which was inspired by Lauren Keim, about letting film sit before you look at it. By letting the film sit, you tend to look at it in a new light - maybe less critical or with a completely different eye from the time you shot it. Sure, it may be a little torturous to see undeveloped rolls kicking around, but I feel this is a wonderful chance for growth. Anyhow, during our discussion on the Grain, we challenged each other to go a year without peaking/developing roll(s) and see what happens. We all have our own spin on how we want to accomplish this, and here's mine:

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52 Weeks of Images on 2 Rolls

Not just 52 images - but 52 stacked images. The idea is to shoot a location each week, on various days during that week, without advancing the film. Then, at the start of the next week, advancing the film one frame, and stacking multiple exposures of the location over the course of the week. So, picture 3-7 images of a single location all exposed onto a single frame on various days with various weather and lighting- and that process repeated for an entire year. That's the concept at least.

Nikon F4s

Why the Nikon F4s?

To accomplish this, I wanted a camera I could dedicate to the project that could do multiple exposures like a champ. I was originally looking at a super small 1/2 frame camera to dedicate (like the Lomo Diana Mini) but then realized it was far too limited in exposure settings to do what I want. I needed something that could handle all the exposures I wanted on a single frame without overexposing the final image.

Well, I already own this camera and can dedicate it to the project, and I still have a couple other 35mm and 120 film cameras that I can use during the year (and develop from at will). For me, the project is looking only from the point of view of a single body. Others, like Thomas, want to do all film for a year, regardless of body. Cody and Jason will also have their own spins on how they are hoping to go 365 without peeking at their film.

The F4s will be used only for this project, and the film shot through it (2 rolls) will not be developed until September of 2018. I did run a test roll this weekend on Portra 400 with a variety of exposure options and subject options to see what looks best. Here are some of the areas I am exploring:

  • 7 stacked - equal exposures over the week (all at 1/7 box compensation)
  • 5 stacked - equal exposures over the week (all at 1/5 box compensation)
  • 4x1 stacked - 5 varied exposures over the week (4 at 1/8 box compensation, 1 at 1/2 compensation

I am sending off the roll today to see how they all look, and which one is achieving the look I am really hoping for. For the vision I have in my head, I think the 4x1 stack will do it best. I am debating if I want to share my test images, or make you wait a year to see what the concept is in my head.

Why Kodak Ektar 100?

Ready for the mad logic here? Math. That's all - well, that and it'll be a unique film for me. I didn't want to think of my exposure comps for a year and multiple's of 100 are a no-brainer and should be simple in most light. As my exposure comp will be adjusted at least 2x a week (if I go the 4x1 route), it's just one less thing to check on.  That's 4 shots at ISO 800, 1 shot at ISO 200; so, exposed at box speed when stacked.

Want to Play Along?

If you want to grab a film camera and not look at the results for a year, we made a page where you can sign up to play along:

Let It Develop 365 

Start and end whenever you want, and shoot as much or as little as you want. Dedicate a single roll or all your rolls. It's about your own personal challenge to see what (if anything) can be learned by not looking at your results for a year. If you sign up on the link above, we'll be sending out monthly motivation, share progress of others, lessons learned so far, and more.

I'll also be updating this post with some progress notes as I go along.