Travel

Scenes from a Beach by Brian Surguine

Silver Beach, Saint Joseph MI

Silver Beach, Saint Joseph MI

Last summer, my friend Blaine Siesser lent me his Mamiya RB67 and said: "go forth and shoot film." (Not really, but the gesture essentially boiled down to that.) With a roll of Ektar 100 in hand, I set off - and had no idea what to do.

By the time I got around to taking pictures, the digital revolution was firmly underway. My exposure to film (ha) was limited to a few disposable cameras, my dad's old Olympus OM-1, and some prints my dad had made sitting around the house. Film was scary, because it was unfamiliar. Each exposure with a 6x7 format camera costs about $1, and that doesn't include developing, scanning, and the camera itself. And now I had to take a picture without the security of checking it on a screen after, or working on it in Lightroom.

St. Joseph Pier, south side. I go for a walk here whenever I get a chance.

St. Joseph Pier, south side. I go for a walk here whenever I get a chance.

Today, I got my scans back after finally sending in a couple of rolls for developing. I have to say: I don't know why I was so worried. Even with Ektar, which is more finicky with exposure than other color negatives like 400H and Portra, the scans look wonderful.

Marsie in summer garb. That focus fall-off... *unintelligible noises*

Marsie in summer garb. That focus fall-off... *unintelligible noises*

I plan to shoot a lot more film this year. Most of it will probably be 6x6 or 645 format, but I really hope to shoot 6x7 again soon. There's something about 6x7 that speaks to me - the detail, the way focus falls off, the beautiful rendering on a large negative - it's very alluring.

Anyone know this guy? I'd love to send him this picture.

Anyone know this guy? I'd love to send him this picture.

All of these pictures were taken last summer, on Silver Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan.

The Fountain by Brian Surguine

A strange sequence of sounds: whirring noises, then fizzing, and finally the pattering of water as it falls on children anxiously waiting to cool off in the radiant sun. Shrieks and screams ring out as billowing plumes fall from the sky, bent by the wind.

I visit St. Joseph often. My in-laws live and work there, and we love to visit the beaches and wineries. My wife and I got married there just a month and a half ago, and we can't think of a better place we could have held our wedding. The lake, the beach, the town - they all carry significant memories and meaning for us.

On this particular day, we had decided to visit the pier. The placid blue of the lake and sky were dotted with the fluorescent pinks and lime greens of neon-colored swimwear screeching for attention. As we walked past the fountain, the huge jets came on, and I recognized an opportunity. With a fleeting, partially-exasperated look from my wife, I left her with my film camera and ran into the spray with my Fuji.

The weeks since our wedding have been filled with wedding photography. It's been really great work, and I love having Marsie shoot with me as my new assistant, but from time to time it's good to shoot something different. Though we've been to St. Joseph a lot, I always overlooked the fountain.

Photographing something you're familiar with is oddly satisfying. I know the fountain: I've walked around it, looked at it from the bluffs, watched it from Silver Beach Pizza. But the people in the fountain on this day grabbed me. Relaxed from a long weekend, carefree from the sun and water: fountains bring something innocent out in people.

I didn't plan on it, but I'm glad I got a little wet. It's like the fountain left its mark on me: "It's not the same if you don't get wet. Here you go! Now stop worrying and have fun." That little splash was the one perfect, needed ingredient. I left feeling cleansed of my concerns, rested, and joyful.