Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back in the old (film) times

Going through some old slide scans, from the time when the back of the cameras was just a door to load a film canister in, I found these two. They were taken in late 80's, when I was living in the Central Massachusetts area (USA). Looking at these images brings me fond memories of hikes in snow, under sub-freezing temperatures. I had an external battery pack, connected to the camera body through an electrical cord, that could be kept in an inner pocket. This way the batteries stayed warm and lasted longer during Winter outdoor excursions.

Contax 167MT + Zeiss Distagon 25/2.8 + Fuji Velvia

For us Portuguese people, living with snow is an "exotic" experience and I quite miss those times. On the other hand, I can't say I miss shooting film. It's not that I did not enjoy film photography at the time. On the contrary I actually took it quite seriously. I used slide film (Fuji Velvia and Provia mostly) and would bracket for exposure on most shots. To keep costs controlled, I would buy bulk film and manually load it into 36 exposure plastic canisters, locking myself in the bathroom with all lights off. Receiving the developed slides back by mail was always a moment of mixed joy and anxiety. And looking at the slides with a loupe over a light box, as uncomfortable as it might be, is something that I still find more exhilarating than looking at a computer monitor.

The problem is that digital photography has introduced so many practical features, like instantaneous preview and exposure/histogram checking. I don't think I would be able to use a film camera now, having to wait an uncertain amount of time to see the developed photos, wondering whether exposure and composition were satisfactory...

I do admire those photographers (and there are several of them) who, owning digital cameras, keep using and enjoying film cameras regularly and are still able to appreciate the subtleties of images captured on different b&w or color films. I can't avoid feeling that I'm a bit less complete as a photographer, having let myself convert totally to digital...

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