Some analogic shots ( do you knot what is an analogic film? ) of an old steam train at the station. Camera: Nikon FM3A, with Ilford HP5. I developed the film and printed it at home…it’s not difficult 🙂 The “taste” of an analogic film is very special!
So I have a lot of space in my bag for a sandwich too! There were a great kinds of films: Color, Black&White, Slides…but they were ‘standard camera rolls’: I could put them in every film-based camera. Returned home I brought my films to a laboratory for developing them…and after 2/3 days I had my holidays’ printed pictures!
2016 : Holidays! A good chance for taking a lot of pictures with my camera , my memory cards, my batteries, my Laptop ( or a lot of memory cards ), my card reader, my usb cables and a battery charger..ehy! in my bag there is no space for my sandwich!!
Today I need ( almost ) 2 batteries for my camera if I want a take pictures for all the day, 2 memory cards (almost, specially if I use Raw ). Returned to the hotel I have to remember to charge the batteries and, if I have no more space in the memory cards, I have to upload the pictures to my Laptop. Today is (quite) impossible traveling light…I think that the technology is getting worse our ( photographic ) life! Butthe worst thing is that we don’t print our pictures!!! We post them on Internet…in a space where there are millions of picures…and so they will lost in that infinite ocean of pictures… On my humble opinion we’d start to print them again..in a big format and to hang them in our house.
To take a picture (technically) we need only three small things: aperture, shutter speed and focus. Three simple choices that today we don’t do anymore : it’s the camera that chooses for us . But to take a picture in that way, I mean automatically, is not the same: we don’t think over on what we are doing … and we do it in a hurry. We carry the viewfinder to our eye (maybe) and we click: the camera will choose the “best” exposure; of course we will get a photo , but it could be a better photo, but how? With that three small choices I told before. In the analogic “world” ( a lot of years ago ) we were obliged to set manually the exposure and focus … because there weren’t a lot of automatism in our camera. So I ‘d like to speak about a very nice camera the Nikon FM3A … one of the last analogic film-based camera.It was produced in 2001 when the digital cameras had spread like wildfire and everybody said that analogue was dead and criticized the choice of Nikon: why does it insist on an outdated technology? Often we need some time to get an answer to a question. I don’t know the answer, but I see that the analog film still lives.
So pick up this piece of “antique” and we notice immediately by its weight that there is a substance! 570 grams (without lens) made of silicon alloy and aluminum with brass caps (as the cameras manufactured in the 70’s) : not plastic! This substance is not a quirk: it means good healthy and robustness … with the added bonus that with this Nikon I can do even small household maintenance like drive nails or pulverize the coarse salt.I owned the FM3A since 2001 … and after many paintings on the wall, it still makes his jobs … taking pictures.
The first time I had in my hands the Fm3A, I tried to power on it… ACC! But where is the power button? I was not able to find it! Simple, just pull the film-advance lever!
In any case that lever must remain slightly open for shooting and so it can be use as a power button. Very simple! Well, once powered on, I looked into the viewfinder and what I saw? Hundreds of figures that only hide what I wanted to capture? Nnnnooo! Only few informations … let’s see: shutter speed display with the exposure-meter indicator, exposure compensation, flash lamp, aperture indication and 12mm-diameter reference circle ( for focus indicator).
Now I’m ready to take a picture( after I inserted a film into the camera )… how !? Very simple again: I can use the “priority aperture” by setting “A” in the shutter-speed dial
then I choose an aperture on the lens
I compose the image and I press lightly the shutter button: if the exposure-meter indicator in viewfinder is in the range of the shutter speed display then I can press fully the shutter button
otherwise I have to change the aperture ( remember that we set “A” only once and to find a good exposure we have only to change the aperture on the lens ).
Black&White or Color filmsare dead? Luckily no at all! On the contrary now there is revival. But..but…there is a “but”: for Black&White is very difficult to find a laboratory that is able to develop your films, so you have to develop and print them by yourself..and this is a very good new! Yes because, as you can see in the slideshow, the “come out” of the photo in the development is truly magic! If you cannot arrange a dark room in your house, you can develop the films and scan them.
For Color Films: there are always a lot of laboratory ( I mean in Italy ) that are able to develop the color film, but the prints are not so good ( generally speaking ) and, in any case, they scan the films and print them as a standard digital photo. So it’s better to ask only for scanning.
Recently I bought a Nikon F5 camera. On the 90’s it was the analogic top camera and it costs about 2.500$ (only the body!!). I found it at 400$ ! And it’s and incredible camera.
See this pictures: only a minimum of post production ( levels and contrast ) .. I waited 3 days for the develops…but to await a pleasure is itself a pleasure..
How can a very old technology help a modern photographer in the digital world? First of all I’m talking about the composition of a picture: the way to take a “good shot”. Ok, there is not a true procedure, but some tips and advicesto try to reach our target in the most of cases (almost!). From the past we can learn something for our future.
Limited resources:think that you don’t have in your SD a lot of free space for your shots. But consider that you can take only 36 pictures… the number of shots of an “old” analogic camera roll. If you have limited resources you’ll use them at the best you can! 30 years ago Personal Computers had only 1 MByte of RAM, despite this I remember very amazing games or other fantastic softwares run on them…and they run with only 1 Mbyte ( or less ) of memory! Computer engineers and software programmers optimized the little resources of the hardware for their softwares, and they did great works! In the same way you cannot waste films for your pictures…snap only in the right moment: in this way you can concentrate on the sceneand on the composition. A common error is: “I take a lot of pictures and I’ll edit with Photoshop”. But why do you waste your time to choose 1 picture on 20/30 very similar? It’s better to use your time at the moment of the shot: take 1 picture, change your position..try to search for a better composition/lights contitions.
No display: old cameras of course had not the display to see our pictures. Think in “analogic way”: power off your display ( or change the visualisation on camera settings only ) , so you will not loose a good shot while you are watching your last picture. You must be concentrate on the scene in front of you. Technologic tips: your battery will last longer.
Lens: once you have choosen your lens, don’t change it( in that day or photographic session). Choose the lens that, on your opinion, is better for that day: if you go for street-photography take a wide lens; for nature’s pictures take a zoom. The philosophy is always the same: use your time on the scene and not on changing the lenses every 30 minutes ( or less). If you are on a street with a wide lens and you need a zoom, use your legs as a “natural” zoom!Go back and forth, as a photographer did in the past time: little number of lens zoom and high cost of them, so the photographer had only one lens.
Very useful help from the past: go to see the photo exhibitionsof the famous master of photography… but also of the master of painting! Yes, we can learn a lot about composition ( and lights ) from ancient painters: Leonardo da Vinci, Paolo della Francesca, Raffaello. Caravaggio is very important for a photographer: the use of the lights in his paintings is Amazing!
This is a little suggestion, especially if you are taking streetphoto pictures: don’t watch the last shoot because in the meanwhile something can happen..and you lost it. Think as you are back in time and you are using an analogic camera: no display! Only concentration on the shots.