It was an age of patience and finesse according to ace lensman, Alan Van Gysen, who we asked to give his thoughts on being a photographer in the pre-digital era. A time when all surf moments seen on screen and in print were captured on film.
For #TBT this week, we take a look at a selection of unedited photographs that were actually taken this year, but all on 35mm film. They were snapped by up-and-coming Cape Town photo/videographer, Tao Farren-Hefer, who was keen to see the results as he experimented with this once common medium.
Words from the veteran:
36-frames. That was it. That’s all you had. One roll with 36 possibilities. 36 Opportunities to capture something special before a reload was in order. Imagine having to swim in after every 36 frames! Definitely no heavy fingers unless the action was real special. That was film. Silver halide crystals wrapped-up snug in gelatin and neatly coated on to a film strip that was all rolled up into a case ready to be shown the light. No instant “fools” preview to check that your photographs were correctly exposed. No delete button either. The lineup sure was a quieter place photographically back in the day. No trigger-happy, rapid-fire, “click-click, click-click”. It was an age of appreciation and patience. The best part of the whole experience was the anxious “wait and see” while the developer at the back processed your film. Usually just over an hour. Clipped racks of film moved slowly through the drier while anticipation built. And finally, the lightbox. Oh the lightbox! That artificial sun that illuminated the photos on your roll, while you pressed the loupe firmly to your eye and quickly skimmed over each frame. The magnifier would bring ever frame clearly into view while you searched for those highlight moments you just prayed and hoped you’d captured as your eye had seen it. Film sure was special, and it was an art – Alan Van Gysen
Words from the talented rookie:
I’ve been building up a collection of surf stills on 35mm analogue cameras, shooting in the water as well as from land. I don’t edit the shots at all once they have been developed at the photo lab, and the film creates quite interesting colour and grain, something a bit different to all the crystal clear and highly photo-shopped digital shots we see – Tao Farren-Hefer
Check out Tao’s website for more.