Thursday, June 9, 2011

Film is Not Dead

When I learned how to photograph, and I mean really use a SLR camera and develop my own negatives and print in a darkroom, it was miraculous to me!  I spent all of my free time in the school's dark room.  I always had a camera in my hand from the time I was pretty young - like 8 yrs old or so - much to my mom's wallet's dismay.  But I never really "got it" until I got an SLR.  Being in school just made things click.  (Haha - didn't mean to make the bad pun, but it works!)  No really, I was able to be creative in a way that was beyond cool.  I had wonderful instructors who pushed me in the right direction and my pictures started getting really good.

Then I met up with my then boyfriend, now husband, and he was into photography more than I was.  We were a match made in heaven.  On our honeymoon, we photographed our way through 4 different countries!  To this day, those are still some of my favorite pictures.  He had this crazy professional Nikon with all the bells and buttons (and I still have NO clue how to use it), and I had this little fully manual Nikon FE10.  It was the only thing I could afford in school.  I paid like $100 for it and the little 35mm-50mm lens that came with it.  The sad cool thing was that I had used it so much, I could set everything - f-stop, shutter, check the light meter, and focus the lens in about the same amount of time it took him to use his camera.  And our pictures were GREAT!

Then we got married and got busy with our lives and our house, and we really didn't use it anymore.  Then we had a kid. We bought a point and shoot digital camera.  We thought it was the coolest thing ever.  It was the coolest thing ever at the time.  We even got some great pics with it.  Then our fancy Nikons sat lonely on a shelf.  Another baby came along.  Technology improved.  Our amount of time to learn technology did not.  BUT we upgraded and bought a Nikon Digital SLR camera - the D50.  We thought this was the coolest thing ever!!  Plus it came pre-programmed and it seemed smarter than us, so we left it on Auto.  All the time.  Do you know where this is going yet?

We took decent pictures - heck, we opened a photography studio!  They were better than decent.  They were good.  We were good.  But they and we weren't great.  We were still missing something.  And for the life of me, I just could not figure out what it was.  We couldn't get our pictures to the level of professionalism that we wanted.  The fun was gone.  The pictures seemed flat and had no dimension.  After FOUR long years of this, and several camera upgrades later - yes a D80 and then a D90, and now a D3 - I FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT!  Take the damn camera off of auto and put it on manual.  FULL MANUAL!!!  It seems simple enough right?  Well, I guess I am smarter than the camera after all. 

I would look back on our honeymoon pics and think, "Look how great this simple camera did."  Well, it was me, not the camera.  (Someone come thunk me on the head now.)  Why it took me so long to figure this out, I have no idea.  But I have spent the better part of the year shooting on manual, and my pictures are so much better for it.  THEN, I got this wild idea to go back to square one and shoot on my 35mm FE10.  I wanted to see how my skills compared on that camera.  Simple, easy, and beautiful.  Guess what??  There was still a roll of film in there that was like 7-8 years old!  I honestly don't know when the last time was I used it.  It had to be before Hurricane Charlie came through in 2004.  We even threw out cases of film that were no good a few years ago because no one was developing them, we weren't using them, they had expired, and we thought film was useless.  Film was dead.  (Ok, someone come thunk me on the noggin again please!)

Well, I took the 35mm out for a test drive, not even knowing if the film in the camera was any good.  I had the D3 in one hand to document everything side by side for comparision and in case the film was bad.  I nervously dropped it off tonight hoping I would get something back, and I was elated to get 23 GREAT pictures back.  I am so excited.  And addicted again.  Gotta buy more film - NOW!  (The hubby has been telling me this all along, but I am a bit hard headed.)

Here are some of my favorites:



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