Having been a Boy Scout for the majority of my life, I have spent a lot of time looking for a capable and lightweight SLR to take camping, hiking, and in this case canoeing. In this article, I have opted to refrain from talking about ILFORD HP5 PLUS extensively, but I will say that it fit the utilitarian requirements of my setup. I would recommend it to anyone considering shooting black and white.
ILFORD HP5 PLUS is my go-to for black and white film, but I don’t have much to say about it that hasn’t been said countless times before. After just a few weeks of searching, I saw a really nice looking Nikon EM at a local camera shop, and it certainly fit the bill. What’s more, it was cheap.
The camera has no mirror lock-up (MLU). There are no manual functions. There is no aperture / depth of field preview, but that’s what I love about the EM. It’s simple. When I bought the camera it came with this little 50mm lens that I have absolutely fallen in love with. This combination made the camera feel almost like a point and shoot with a ton of lens options. I was confident that this was the perfect camera to take on my troop’s next outing, canoeing on the buffalo river.
The night before the canoe trip I carefully wrapped my new camera in a hand towel and stuffed it and one roll of HP5 PLUS in a dry bag to be clipped onto the canoe. I will admit that I was a bit nervous bringing my new to me Nikon EM camera out on the open water, but I set out on the Buffalo River the next day with 17 miles and 36 shots ahead of me.
Here’s a little tip to those of you who decide you want to try canoe photography yourself, load your film on solid ground. Loading film in the rain in a canoe is less than ideal. Another thing I didn’t account for was the immense effect of the rocking of the canoe on the shake of the camera. I had several overly blurry shots because I used shutter speeds around 1/60 of a second according to one of the most fundamental of photography rules.
While this roll only produced a few keepers, I am quite proud of it. When I inevitably find myself out on the river again, you can count on me carrying my trusty little Nikon EM with me.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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