Buddhist monk in a tricycle taxi in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Film – A Different Photography Experience

I put a few rolls of film though a camera recently and it was like meeting an old friend again who I had not seen for a long long time!

In 2006 I bought my first serious DSLR and had not shot a single roll of film since then. A year or so back I was talking to my friend James about my old Nikkormat, the first 35mm camera I owned and which I still have. It’s now over 50 years old and James encouraged me to shoot some with it and create a series of prints to exhibit to celebrate it’s half century. Typical me, I’ve been thinking about it for ages, and even come up with a theme for the series, but still had not loaded a film into the camera.

Recently we had a customer who booked a one day workshop and wanted to learn more about shooting film and Pu said I should shoot film that day also. I picked up a roll of film and put a battery in the camera. Sadly the exposure meter, (the only feature on the Nikkormat that requires a battery,) was non-responsive. Everything else on the camera is purely mechanical, so all was not lost.

We spent a most enjoyable day with our customer, shooting both film and digital. I used my Nikon D800 with a 50mm lens and had a lovely old 55mm micro (‘P’ series for you gear geeks) on the Nikkormat. I used the D800 to make light readings and adjusted the settings on the Nikkormat accordingly. It really is a different practice shooting film, even with the D800 hanging off my other shoulder!

The wait to see the results took an eternity, but it was worth the wait. Our film was very evenly exposed with just one frame of the 36 over exposed. This showed me that using the digital camera to ascertain the correct settings worked, and it also showed me my lovely old Nikkormat was functioning as rock steady as it always had in the past, (I had been concerned that it may not work properly because it has been just sitting on a shelf for so many years.)

Managing two cameras and making the exposure reading the way we did meant we worked more slowly, but this was always the way when I shot film. Taking time to think more carefully, composing more critically and exposing for black and white film was an interesting experience.

Last week I went out twice and shot two more rolls. Getting used to using the two cameras in tandem, and because of the nature of my subjects meant I worked a little more quickly, at times having to grab shots as my subjects were riding away. My black and white film project is of the tricycle taxi riders and their bikes – saamlors.

I’m still waiting on the film to be developed as the darkroom that processed the other roll is now closed for a month and I need to find an alternative, so stay tuned …

Buddhist monk in a tricycle taxi in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A single frame from the first roll of film I’ve shot in over ten years. (Ilford Delta ISO 400)

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