It’s been a difficult year and every cell in my body has been craving simplicity and play in an effort to rebound. When I’ve had some free time lately, I’ve found myself reaching for box cameras that I haven’t used in years rather than my usual mainstays. These cameras are as simple as they come: no light meter, focus, and no aperture. It’s just a box that holds film with a lens and a shutter. The viewfinder barely functions. Hold the box, point it, and click the shutter.
Oddly enough, this simplicity actually opens things up to a certain amount of complexity and fun experimentation. Most box cameras like this one can’t focus less than 2m. I took this close-up photo by holding a magnifying glass in front, juggling a ruler to be sure I got the distance right.
This photo was taken with an old favourite, the Ansco Shur Shot. I love the smell of the old leather cover. Unfortunately, it appears to have sprung a leak somewhere, which you can see by the numbers and dots from the paper backing that have burned into the film. Of course, some people would see that as an advantage that adds something to the image.
On the plant: Bladder campion (Silene vulgaris) aka cowbell is one of my most-loved edible weeds. I’m not a huge fan of the eating part but I do love those bloated flowers. I’ve secretly come to associate the plant with a favourite director, Jane Campion. But given that it’s alternate name is cowbell, I think you could make a case for calling it the Christopher Walken plant. More cowbell!
You can’t eat the leaves at this stage since the leaves are tough and bitter this far into the season. Instead, pick the tender shoots when they first emerge in the spring. Like most edible weeds, it tastes kind of like spinach.