I’ve primarily been a digital photographer; however, with the pestering of my college friend, I’ve picked up film photography. I grew up watching my father take pictures of me and my family with cameras, one of which is the Nikon FM2 that I used to take these images. And of all of the cameras I’ve seen or used, I still find this one the most beautiful – between its design, tank-like construction, and beautiful shutter snap.
Regardless of what it is, maybe it’s me imagining myself in my father’s shoes taking photographs, but the FM2 is a camera that fills me with a sense of appreciation for my childhood and simpler times. Every time I look through the prism, I think of how my dad saw things, and I slow down, focus, and depress the shutter.
Having found myself newly based in the East Coast close to New York, and having made several short trips there, I knew I finally had a chance to more comfortably photograph the city on film. New York City itself, despite its vibrant colors and sounds always struck me as a city meant for black and white photography. Maybe it’s a byproduct of my associating the city with images of printed New York Times newspapers, or of older photojournalism work and street photography, but I knew I wanted to try to mimic this effect – what better time to shoot my first roll of black and white film, the obvious choice being ILFORD HP5 PLUS.
As I wandered around the city with the same college friend who got me into film photography, I knew I was in for a photographic journey. While I want to say things went off without a hitch, I made the mistake of not ensuring my film was properly secured – nothing a rewind and reloading couldn’t fix (the results of which were some interesting double exposures).
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The rest of the roll was less challenging, yet no less novel. Drifting around the city, finding compositions, then pausing to think and remembering that the vibrant city’s splashes of color (or lack thereof) would no longer be a factor in my images was a novel experience. However, shoot away I did, and next think you know, my shutter count hit 36 and the roll was finished.
Fast forward 2 weeks and my film was developed and scanned by my local photo lab, and I can say I’m happy with the images. There’s a bit more grain than I originally anticipated but with a wonderful glow and no lack of sharpness. I think this adds to the aesthetic that I was aiming for – after all, this was my dad’s old film camera, not one of my newer digital camera bodies – and I love the images all the more for that.
I’ve already bought more HP5, and I’m excited to shoot it more often. Who’s to say that you shouldn’t see things in black and white.
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