Last summer I picked up my first rangefinder. I got a Fed-3 and a 50mm 2.0 lens for 100$ from the Ukraine. As luck would have it it actually works! Due to Soviet era mass production the standards were pretty low when it came to something like the Fed line of cameras.
Mine was manufactured some time around 1964 so there was a chance it would have been just a paperweight. Instead I was lucky to get a great working rangefinder with a unique feature. Each image has some odd black crinkled line across the top of the photo. I have taken it apart and looked through it but there is nothing untoward just a byproduct of low Soviet standards. Personally I like it though, it adds a uniqueness to every image I make.
So with that in mind I'm starting a new subsection of my blog. Russian Roulette will feature only images taken from the Fed and should (almost) always be in black and white. I decided on the name because, well the camera is Russian, and though I shoot film often, there is always an element of chance involved, I never know exactly what I will get when a roll is developed.
The Fed was still a new camera for me when I made this image. I was walking around downtown Toronto with a friend and wasn't even sure the camera worked at that point. I had my first roll of film in it and was reaching the end of the 36 frames when I saw this man walking towards me.
There was only a moment to react, I guessed at the focal distance and as he passed I peeked out from behind my friend to get this one frame. I don't think I've ever been so excited to have an image developed.
As luck would have it I judged the distance fairly accurately and ended up with the frame I wanted.
I think this image offers an example of how photography can capture a ordinary moment and make it extraordinary. Granted you won't see a man in a suit carrying insulation tubing down the street every day but is it really that odd? I think what makes the image work is everything else. The isolation of the subject, his stride and the depth-of-field choice.
I didn't just take the image though I made it. Thats the distinction I'm trying to make here. There were conscious choices that went into the look of the image before I even knew I would take that man's photo.
Really it was an ordinary moment made extraordinary by the choices I made as a photographer.