When I was about eight years old I began to help my dad develop film in our basement darkroom. My job was to separate the paper backing from the film rolls before immersing them in the developer tank.It wasn’t long until I had my own camera and, with help, started processing my own film. Cameras have not been far from my reach ever since.
But things change. Although I had a home wet darkroom for many years, the digital photography sirens’ seductive call entranced me and I fell under its spell. In around 2003 I bought my first digital single lens reflex (Nikon D100)and have been shooting digital ever since.
Until now. There is something about film photography that still attracts me. Yes, you give up the instant gratification of viewing your images immediately, but you gain the ability to be patient while the film sits undeveloped in your camera. And since film can be expensive, I believe the photographer learns to be more discerning when deciding composition and camera settings. I also believe, despite the wonderful quality of digital cameras and editing programs, that an image caught on film is somehow more “real” than a bunch of dots arranged, not by the picture taker, but by a computer scientist who can’t know what meaning or feeling you hope your photo captures.
Anyway, I recently bought a wonderful compact 35mm rangefinder film camera. For those who are interested in such things, it is a Voigtlander Bessa r2m. It is fully mechanical and manual and can shoot without a battery, although they are needed to power the in camera meter, if you choose to use it.
This does not mean that I am giving up digital photography. First of all, with the volume of photos I take, I would go broke very quickly paying for film and processing.Secondly, digital photography often yields beautiful results. Its convenience cannot be ignored and the variety of digital gear that is available to the enthusiast is mind boggling. I see the two,digital and film,as being complementary; each for its own purpose and use.
So here are a few shots from the first roll of film shot with the R2M. These are not masterpieces, but simply a starting point for me to get reacquainted with an old friend.
(All shot on Kodak 400 T-max film.)
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