I’m a converted
I admit it. I’m a convert.
It all began as an evolution of my love for the past. I live in a technological world, in the real life I’m an IT professional, and my way of rebalance everything always was to use objects tied to the past. I write with a fountain pen, I take notes on black blocks, I have always my Moleskine with me, I roll my cigarets and I use a leather bag for my tobacco.
Meanwhile, I have two iPhones, an iPad, I like Sci-fi, I’m hyper connected and I think Internet had the same impact on civilization as the Renaissance.
My first choice camera is a Nikon D7000 that I bought I think 10 minutes after it was marketed, loaded with a Eye-fi card and with a GPS module.
Still I was really attracted by the vintage models of Fujifilm, the X10, X100 and X-Pro1, and I bought a X10 just to enjoy have my hands on something that recall the photography of the ’70s.
I think my conversion process began at this point.
It began when I saw a little, old, in perfect working conditions and beautiful Nikon FE2 on a shelf of a shop.
I fallen in love with it, and I started thinking to the loved, old film often and often.
I started with film, and I don’t fear to say that I was terrible at best. I am not as other photographers, bigger than me, that are born with something more inside, I had to learn to see, and I think I still have a long road in front of me. But when I shot at the end of ’90s, with my Nikon F60 first, then my Nikon F90X, and finally my Nikon F4, I didn’t have any idea about what I was doing. The rules of third, balancing, contrasting, what speed and apertures was, and why different films had different ISOs wasn’t not just unknown to me, but understandable as Turkish.
I just set on Program and shot, I used my reflex as expensive compact cameras.
And the worst thing was that, for me, my horrible photos was good. Well, let’s say they were good made. To be real, if I see them now, what can I say it’s that they were well exposed. After all I was shooting in Program. For the rest, composition was inexistent, focusing less than passable, and I think that the poor matrix made miracles saving my film from my undeniable capacity of shootingShooting without take in consideration the position of the sun.
Shooting in digital surely helped me to learn to shot. The fact I can see the histogram of my photos guided me in my exploration of the manual mode, and when, some years ago, the passion for photography reborn in me after ten years, allowed me to progress at a speed that, in time of analog photography, surely I didn’t reach without a teacher and a lot of time to spend.
Back to the present
After months I was thinking about it, I felt the need to turn back to film for grow up as a photographer. It could seem strange that I say this in 2013, but I feel I was missing something. I didn’t want my turning back to film to be one mediated by the photographic super technology of the ’90s, what I want was it’s a crude and violent experience, a return to the photographic craftsmanship. Myself, the cell of the light meter, aperture ring and speed ring. Nothing more.
At the end I bought the Nikon FE2 I was telling about.
The first obstacle has been the film itself. One time you had an infinite choice. There was the big Names and if you choose one of them you was sure. Today Kodak isn’t Kodak anymore, Fuji has little choices, Ilford seems to do only B&W films (I didn’t find nothing color by Ilford). The greedy McCurry used all the Kodachrome around, so at the end I chosen a Kodak Super Color 200, just to keep low the chances of error.
Back to home I searched a bit on the internet for reviews of this film, and I think I made the wrong choice, just to keep low the chances of error.
The shot with a mechanical camera is different. I can’t say in word, but it’s different. It’s something real, sincere. By the vibrations you can see all the springs, the levers, the gears turn and move the mirror, the curtains, and everything.
The simple act to pull the lever of film advance gives you satisfaction.
Today films, especially the commercial ones as the Kodak Super Color, are really cheap, but still you have little shot to do, 24 or 36, so you think about every photo as a dish well done, taking your time, thinking about every ingredient and every little variation.
You don’t have lcd to look at, you don’t have menu you can navigate, you don’t have options to choose, you don’t have adjustment to do, and you can adapt your camera to the conditions you find, i.e., adjusting the ISO; it’s you, the film you have, the needle of the light meter, the aperture and the speed rings. Nothing more. Focus is manual too, no cross zone, no autofocus.
It’s you that makes the photos.
And after you made it, you can’t see what you have done, you must wait for the development. And you can’t believe how many time it takes to shot 24 poses when you have a film.
Photography loses that characteristic of anxiety, bite & run, burst of shots that now it has in this digital world, and it backs to something slow, thought, lived. As told by a person I know, it comes back the direction.
It’s an experience I suggest to everybody that he’s passionate in photography e that knows how to shot in manual mode. Now, when I want to enjoy my photographic walk, I go out with my film cameras often than my digital one. With little money you can buy great bodies with glorious old lenses. My FE2 with a Nikon Series E 50mm F 1.8 cost 150 Euros, and I bought a Nikon 24mm Series E F. 2.8 for other 50 Euros. And they are beautiful lenses.
And you? Did you have a return to film too, in this days? Did you tried? Are you curious? Let me know!