I had been waiting to treat myself for a long time. Or is that “test”? And then i did it. I loaded an old manual camera – the kind with cranks and levers – with a roll of any-old-film picked up at the local shop. This is what i got on a rainy day in Rome.
The camera is slim but heavy. A normal slr from the late ’70s – a Nikon FE – that needs everything done for it. Loading and winding the film at every shot. Manually focusing and setting the aperture. I was rusty. Not the camera. Three years in the drawer and the tiny button batteries still boast full charge.
The lens was one of what i remembered as my favorite, not least because of the huge aperture: the trusty old standard 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor. That allows to shoot in low light and in some cases to throw the background and/or foreground into a pleasantly undefined blur.
The opportunity to see if we could still work together was found in a few hours free between running errands on a horribly rainy november day in Rome. Everyone outdoors – my favorite subjects normally – was looking miserable and grumpy. So i focused on those subjects under shelter – whether human or inanimate. Looking out from a shop window or from a fashion poster. These are the shots i like in the 20 or so frames i exposed that day.
What i learned: The 50mm is way too long a lens, as far as i’m concerned. It is like peeping through a keyhole. You have to get far away from your subjects in order for them to fit in the frame. I am far more inclined to get right up close and personal to what i’m shooting and use the wideangle end of the standard zoom on the amateur Nikon D5000 dslr i normally use. But, hey, shooting at f/1.4 is a trip! “Foureyes”, above, was shot in very low light, throwing the window in the foreground into an unfocused blur no standard zoom would ever allow you to.
Another thing i learned – much to my dismay. Processing the film and getting the files on a CD rather than printed on paper costs seven euros. Which seems reasonable. Except that when i got home i realized – silly me for not asking – that my lovely film photographs are measly little murky scans of barely over 1000×1500 pixels. That’s it! The lab is still using the same machine it was in 2003. Does this seem reasonable to you?
In any case, this is not to complain about the lab but rather to explain the dubious contrast and “muddy” tones in some of the images.
All in all, shooting a roll of film in 2013 was weird but also very instructive. Especially, it was great fun. Click!
Thanks for being here,