New Acquisition - Black And White And Other Thoughts

2010_003_36.jpgWell that Nikon FM2 that came the other day works great. The meter agrees 100% with my D3 center-weighted meter at the same ISO. I also shot it against a known good quantity (my electronically controlled Nikon F100) with the same film and same development and guess what - the rolls are identical from an exposure stand point. It is a keeper.

A couple of people sent me emails and asked if I was serious about shooting 35mm film - they sort of get the 120 and sheet film but they were asking 35mm - really? Yep really. It is not nearly as flexible as digital the film you have in the camera dictates the aesthetic and to some degree the technical "quality". That you are stuck with for 36 images - so what. I have no qualms shooting a couple of extra frames to "finish" I still shoot way less than I shoot with digital. I also have no qualms to just rewind half way into a roll and be done if the circumstances dictate. In reality I am not in situations that call for ISO 400 then ISO 1600 then ISO 100 within 36 frames. If you shoot 4 images and put the camera away until next week and then another 7 images and put the camera away until Christmas - well the circumstance are likely to change.

I also have no need for color/quality/black and white choices after the fact. I actually like my options limited - I decide what and how I am going to approach something and I am done. I don't keep second guessing the infinite options AFTER I shot it. I shoot very differently when I shoot black and white and know I am shooting black and white. I shoot very differently when I shoot color - I look at completely different things. Yes there is some overlap but for the most part…

Last but not least - I am way beyond the need to make every image I ever shoot the most technically "good" image that is possible in my photographic journey. I do not mount my camera on a tripod for every image - I do not use the absolute best lens for every photo - I do not use the highest resolution finest grain film or camera setting and I certainly don't try to make it look like I did with noise reduction, sharpening, etc. Sometimes this is critical for the image that you are making but in most cases for the subject matter I shoot - it is way way down the list. In fact some images lend themselves to some subject movement, etc, etc.

Last but not least I love black and white and I love prints on paper. Film is way way way way less expensive to make not only decent but in a lot of ways aesthetically superior black and white prints with an infinitely grater range of treatment options for the final look. How much cheaper - less than half the cost - way less. If you are a black and white output guy - forget the film cost it doesn't even count. Let's take two really really good papers - a very nice glossy FB 11x14 silver black and white paper that I use regularly and Museo Silver Rag - a really nice Inkjet paper that I like. The real photo paper - bayarta coated (this is a black and white photo paper invention even though the new fad is to call a bunch of inkjet papers the same thing - it is not some new technology) - with real SILVER in the emulsion. Twenty Five sheets = $39. Museo Silver RAG - $89 from Amazon. Yea yea the Museo is slightly bigger but let's talk ink shall we. The paper developer is dirt cheap $6 for at least 4 boxes of the silver paper - more if you print a lot but I never exhaust a tray of developer  in a session and never save it.

The sprint flowers at the top of the post were just a random frame from crap laying around that I shot and developed for the test roll on the FM2 yesterday - 10 year old Tri-X shot at 1600 developed using a stand process in very dilute HC110. Pretty cool.


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