I’ve learned so much from you film photographers whose blogs I follow and who follow my blog. I don’t remember which of you said it first — was it Mike Connealy? — but more than one of you suggested that you’d become a much better photographer if you’d just stick to one camera. I thought about that idea often. I love shooting different cameras, but I also want to get better at making pictures.
So I decided that in 2014 I would primarily use one film camera. I wouldn’t rule out buying a new camera here and there and putting a test roll through it, and I would still use my digital camera for all the things it’s good for. But for film shots, I’d use one camera for almost all of them, and I’d put extra time and energy into shooting with that camera.
I chose my Pentax ME to be the camera. I liked its smaller size and lighter weight. I love its aperture-priority shooting. And I have fine collection of SMC Pentax lenses for it.
But then John Smith threw a monkey wrench into the works. First, he sent me a Nikon F2A and said, “Some were born to shoot the F2; we will see if you are among them.” I had a great time with that F2. John declared me so born, and sent me another F2, this time an F2AS — and one that had been overhauled to new operating condition by Sover Wong, the world’s foremost F2 expert. And then he sent me a smattering of AI Nikkor lenses to go with it.
I immediately abandoned my Pentaxian plans and became a Nikonian for 2014. And then I watched my work steadily improve all year. My composition and use of light both got a lot stronger, both through deliberate repetition and through trying to emulate some of the things I see in your photographs. Also, freed from the hindrance of constantly fiddling with new cameras, I found myself more and more using the F2AS well without thinking. I was able to think entirely about my photographs; my hands increasingly automatically worked the F2AS to get the look I wanted.
I am so happy I did this!
For 2015, I plan to leave black-and-white film in the F2AS, and color film in the F3HP John also sent me, and use them as my go-to cameras. I’ll resume buying cameras, too — even though my interest in collecting has waned, I can’t ignore that my camera posts are enormously popular. I’m also going to revisit some old favorite cameras — first among them being my old (and well loved) Pentax ME, just to see how it feels to me now.
Here are some photos from my F2AS that appealed to me today as I reviewed the work I’ve done this year.
Agfa Clack. 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Ilford Delta 400
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom-Nikkor, Ilford Delta 400
Expired. 55mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor, Kodak Gold 400 (very expired)
On the Monon Trail. 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom-Nikkor, Kodak Tri-X (expired 2002)
Old cars under an awning. 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Plus-X (expired, cold stored)
1950 Hudson Commodore. 50mm f/2 AI-Nikkor, Kodak Plus-X Pan (expired, cold stored)
Lady Ornament. 50mm f/2 AI-Nikkor, Kodak T-Max 400
Grape hyacinth. 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
Main St., Casey, IL. 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom-Nikkor, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
Lavender. 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Ektar 100
Evening light at Oldfields. 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Ektar 100
Margaret. 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
Farmall. 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Superia Xtra 800
In transition. 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Velvia 50
Red tree parking lot. 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Velvia 50