Travels with Rollei

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | Algiers, Algeria (map)

Boulevard St. Germain, Paris, February 2013
While words have always been my prefered way of recording my travel experiences, in recent years I have dabbled with photography as a means of capturing the ambiance of foreign places. Since the moment earlier this year when I "discovered" my dad's antique Rolleicord, I have been curious how it would fare on the road.

Part of me worried that perhaps it was too bulky or too delicate for traveling. And what happens to film in airport X-ray machines? But I reminded myself that Erik Gauger, author of Notes from the Road—long one of my favorite travel blogs—uses a far larger and more cumbersome camera to take his ultra-vivid shots. Surely I could manage with the Rollei.

So in February, as I was heading out the door for a work trip to Algiers—with an extended layover in Paris with the lady friend en route—I squeezed the Rollei and some film into my carry-on bag.

Taking photos abroad proved interesting. Given all the knobs I need to turn to compose each shot, it was a challenge to capture moving targets like people or other dynamic subjects I would normally photograph. In Paris, like back home in Washington, many pedestrians did curious double-takes upon seeing this peculiar piece of equipment. As I joked to my Algerian colleagues, however, nobody seemed to find the camera out of place in musty old Algiers, a place that can seem forgotten by time.

That excruciating wait for the photos to be developed—so foreign to those of us raised in The Digital Era—was even worse than usual, as I waited several weeks to return to Washington before seeing the images.

In the end, the photos turned out fine, and the camera's greatest qualities shown through. In many ways, the photographs' yellowed tint and weak saturation served to capture the streets of Paris and Algiers in a light that was all the more romantic, recalling images of an earlier era.

The travels with Rollei will continue. In the meantime, here are a few shots from my recent trips:



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