I've always experimented in my photography. Some things have worked and some things haven't. The most memorable mistake I've made is developing a 35mm roll of Fuji Superia 400 in the same tank as a roll of TMAX 100, at the same time, because I thought it was another roll of the TMAX. Weirdly, the images turned out. In fact, I'd go so far to say that most of them were very nice images, and some even benefited from the slightly pinkish tone the whites took on when scanned. I never tried printing them because I had no access to a darkroom, and I had no printer either. It was only my second time developing film.
Fast forward to now, and my recent adoption of large format. I'm wanting to get more serious about photography and focus more on studio work than the grab shots I've done previously. I'll be doing a lot of things for the first time: printing, still life, studio portraiture, large format. It's a lot to learn at once, but I am up to the challenge, however considerable it may be.
However, I *am* concerned about one thing: I do not want to lose my experimental nature in chasing the perfect image. I think that's why I'm buying cheap mystery lenses. I think that's why I decided that I'd stick with shooting mostly expired or short dated film. I think that's why I'm itching to try the Efke Positive paper even though most have said that it's way too contrasty.
Some responses I've gotten here and otherwhere lately make me think that a lot of people discourage experimentation. I don't think that should be the case for a few reasons. I'll try to explain to the best of my ability.
I'm a young person. I turn 25 on the 15th. The future of film will be, eventually, left to me. I take that seriously. Film is something I've enjoyed for almost 10 years now, and I hope to enjoy it for many, many more to come. I hope my children will get to enjoy it. One of the things that brought me to film was the ability to readily experiment with different factors. Overexposure, underexposure, overdevelopment, underdevelopment, paper negatives, pinhole cameras, plastic fantastic cameras, old lenses with no names, cheap one elements of who-knows-what origin...this is the stuff I'm interested in. While I may not always get great results with these things, everything I've gotten from them is a learning experience and valuable. Large format is a veritable treasure trove of experiments waiting to happen. I want to giggle like a little school girl when I think of all the fun I can have with barrel lenses and older lenses and the various films and contact printing and alternative processes. I want to be serious about my work, sure, but I don't want to stop having fun with photography.
I don't see anything wrong with that.
I have a Rodenstock Geronar in my possession. It will be my normal lens on my Graphic View. It's a pretty average setup. It will work well for multiple types of shooting. For the other stuff, I'll have the Ilex whatsit, the Rank Taylor Hobson (apparently) POS, and, possibly, one other cheap lens of unknown origin. All will be used for serious photography, but for different reasons. And I'll have fun with them all. Because, in my mind, that's all it's about.
I'd like to sell some stuff, sure. Making money off of photography would be great, and it would make my boyfriend realize that there *is* something to this whole thing I'm interested in. But it isn't the first and foremost goal. The first goal is expressing myself and putting the images out there that *I'm* proud of, whether they're made with the newest $1500 lens or the $.99 crapastigmat I bought off Ebay. The end result is what matters.
So this is why I do this crazy stuff. Just figured that, if I'm going to be spending lots of time around here, you should know.