February 26, 2024 ·

The Sprocket Rocket as imagined by Midjourney.

The Wabi Sabi Walk

Exploring Wabi-Sabi is akin to wandering into a forest without a path, guided only by wonder. 

What’s “Wabi Sabi”? And what’s drawing me towards this ancient philosophy now?  

Lately, I feel a kind of peaceful rebellion against this plastic, pixel-perfect world. 

Originating in ancient Japan, in the Buddhist tradition, Wabi-Sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection. In design, the aesthetic values simplicity, asymmetry, roughness, and modesty.

It shines a light on the beauty of nature and life’s cycles, teaching us to embrace each moment, from growth and decay to the end.

In a world obsessed with A.I., and creating high-definition fantasies, the notion of Wabi-Sabi calls us back to the authentic – to appreciate the beauty in the naturally flawed.

When I stumbled across Diana+ camera at the flea market the other day wasn’t just a thrifty find; it was fate.  It’s flaws were front and center, from its plastic body to its lo-fi charm, this brought me back to the days when taking a photo was more of a gamble than guarantee. This was the rebellion that I needed.

While looking for actual film for this unpredictable camera, I found Lomography.com. It’s packed with film photography gear, unique cameras, and creatively named film emulsions, like a B&W stock called “Earl Grey.” *

There I found…The Sprocket Rocket. It’s not just a camera; it’s a journey into the heart of Wabi-Sabi philosophy.

It’s a plastic camera that captures life in 35mm with exposing the entire roll from edge to edge – including the film sprockets! The sprocket holes—those remnants of the analog process—become integral to the story. 

Opting for 100ISO Color Negative, my strategy was to chase colors and soak up as much sunlight as possible for my shots.

This is where imperfection meets artistry, to seek the moment, to seek the conditions needed.

In some ways it was freeing – the camera controls – instead of ISO and Iris were “Shade” or “sunny”. The focus falls when you place your subject somewhere between “flower” and “mountain” on the focus ring.

Each photo becomes homage to beauty of the moment, captured within the bounds of a 1:3 aspect ratio, embracing the unpredictable and the imperfect.

And yeah, there was a heart breaking moment that could only be experienced in the film world.  After shooting some amazing shots of a willing model,  as I walked away…I realized I’d shot all his shots with the lens cap on. Classic.

But that’s the beauty of this journey—learning to laugh at the mishaps and revel in the chaos. Luckily, when I was taking his picture I told him without hesitation – I have no idea if these will turn out!

Hauling around these cameras, IS making a statement, in a world obsessed with plastic perfection, this plastic camera celebrates the raw, the real, the fleeting.

Each click of the shutter was a rebellion against the expected, a dive into the unknown.  Would these shots be masterpieces or disasters? Who cares.

It’s the excitement of a treasure hunt, the thrill of the chase, embracing the unexpected twists and turns, even when you forget to take off the lens cap.

So, for now, I embrace the chaos, the imperfections, and try to find beauty in this plastic mayhem.

And you’re just gonna have to hang tight for the big reveal! All the film has been sent out.

That’s the nail-biting thrill of shooting on film—wondering, did anything come out?   Was that moment truly captured? The wait is pure agony, but oh, the anticipation—it’s part of life – the Wabi Sabi.

*LuLa does not have an affiliation Lomography.com we just like what they’re doing.

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Jon 'Swindy' Swindall, based in Atlanta, GA, is a seasoned photographer, cinematographer, and skilled drone pilot, known for his dynamic visual storytelling and passion for capturing the world's diverse beauty through his lens. Sr. Editor Click, connect, and create at Luminous Landscape.

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