I tracked the FedEx package all day. After I pulled into the parking lot, I rushed to the apartment complex’s office to pick up the brown envelope that contained the first true black and white film that I had ever shot. I rushed upstairs to my little apartment and ignored my dog’s pleas to go for a walk so I could see the images I had shot. I love the black and white aesthetic. Some of my favorite photographs are devoid of color. I was and continue to be very excited to shoot in true black and white. I have been shooting with my film camera using Ilford Delta 400 35mm film. I have neither the expertise nor the education to process film. I don’t have the means to scan them digitally either. So, I had sent them to a photo store not far away. They arrived today.
At first, I was surprised by the grain. This could be due to the ASA speed of the film. The picture above was taken on a clear sunny afternoon. I am tempted to try 100 speed Deltas for daytime shooting. After I got past the film grain, I really started to like the pictures. They seemed to have a depth to them. They felt warmer; they made photos from digital cameras feel sterile. I have been exclusively shooting with my iPhone for the past year. The digitally post-processed black and white photographs looked good but this was different.
I was shooting with an old Nikkor 55 Micro f/2.8 lens. I found most of my day shots fairly high in contrast. There was a fair amount of overexposure in places that were not intended to overexpose. I may have to try a neutral density filter to shoot during the day. The picture above was one of my more successful experiments. I made sure the visible part of Christina’s face was properly exposed. I let the rest overexpose. This picture came closest to executing my vision accurately. In the future, I may have to compensate for the camera’s built-in light meter which is the only electronic bit of the Nikkormat. The light meter seems to overexpose when outdoors during the day. The exposure in darker conditions are fairly acceptable.
I spent a day photographing my neighbor Christina. She was a joy to photograph. We walked through some of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the Florida Southern campus. This glass wall caught my eye. I tried to capture Christina and her reflection in it. While composing this image, I realized that I was not getting what I wanted to see. Photography is nothing more than seeing something and capturing it into media. The camera and lens are just tools, and they are usually in the way. I have been told that normal human eyesight is similar to looking through a lens with a 50mm focal length. My 55 Micro would have been able to capture what I saw. However, I tend to see more than what my 55mm lens shows me. I tend to see a wider focal length. I may be conditioned to compose a wider frame since I have been shooting exclusively and frequently with the 35mm equivalent lens of the iPhone 4S for the past twelve months.
I now have a Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens which shows me more than I am used to composing with my eyes. Sometimes, it makes me nauseous when looking through the viewfinder. I am slowly learning to see the 28mm aesthetic without putting the viewfinder against my eyes. I walk the same streets everyday always trying to see things differently. Access to a new focal length makes new explorations easier, and fun. A new lens is the closest thing to a fresh pair of eyes.