This week the Melbourne Silver Mine’s interview series moves on to Roberts Birze:
Dial Shhh for Shower Scene
please introduce yourself. what is “your style” of photography? Hello, I’m Rob. I’ve never really thought about my “style” of photography. Maybe on the odd occasion that I have thought about it, it’s been about a lack of distinct “style”. However, I find that I’m mostly drawn towards dark and moody images. Some, but not all, of my photography may reflect this. I don’t think I’ve been shooting long enough to have established a definitive style.
how long have you been shooting film? Although I took many photos in my late teens and early twenties, I have only been keenly shooting and developing film with great interest since May 2006 when I bought a Holga. After shooting with a Lensbaby on a digital SLR for a while, I was attracted to the impressionistic images created by this medium format toy camera. Once I bought one and started to develop my own black and white film, my interest in other film cameras grew and soon I was gathering old cameras from friends and family.
do you prefer colour or black & white? do you have a favourite film or camera? I shoot black & white film almost exclusively. Although I shoot colour film from time to time, I find the scanning process to be overly time consuming and I feel that I can never get the colour right. This is not to say that I only shoot black & white film because I find it easier to scan, but I find it more pleasing to my eye and in many instances capable of conveying stronger feelings and moods that colour images. When shooting for colour, I will generally turn to my digital SLR.
My favourite “all purpose” film would be Kodak Tri-X400. I like it at ISO1600 the best, but anywhere between ISO100 and ISO1600, I find the results generally always pleasing. I think my second favourite film is Fuji Neopan 100. Nice and fine, it loves Rodinal and forget about reciprocity failure. Fuji Neopan 100 is what I have most recently been using for long exposures and bright conditions.
My favourite camera is my Holga 120GN. Although my other cameras are much more flexible and produce sharper images, it’s the quirkiness of the Holga that makes it my favourite.
show us one of your favourite shots and tell us a bit about it. how did you take it and is there a story behind it? Whenever I experiment with photography, I tend to try a couple of new things at the same time, so if something doesn’t work properly, it makes it difficult to sort it out. I don’t know why I do it, but that’s the way it is. When I was in Latvia last year, I shot about five rolls of Tri-X400 @ ISO1600 in the Bronica with a polarising filter & a red filter. I had never shot with that combo before and needless to say, after developing the film, the images were so contrasty that most were useless. Some turned out nicely which I’m happy about, but it really is silly to experiment like that when you’re on the other side of the world and the chance of a re-shoot is not good for at least a few years.
gumoil alternative process by karena goldfinch.
show us a favourite shot from the MSM pool. what do you enjoy in other peoples’ photos? I found this image by Karena Goldfinch to be mesmerising in it’s layers of darkness. Take some time to look at the rest of her stream. There’s a whole different dimension out there that I never knew existed.
When looking at other peoples photos, I tend to be struck by the mood first. My enjoyment comes from the mood that the combination of light and subject creates.
when time happens: a little before dawn (i)
What’s your favourite subject to shoot? Probably seascapes, although I don’t get around to doing it much and have only shot a few seascapes on film so far. Maybe my favourite subject is water in it’s natural environment.
give us a question to ask the next person. my question is: Fine with tones or gritty and contrasty? Why?