After watching a documentary on the renowned war photographer Don McCullin I felt a strong urge to ‘go back to my roots’ and shoot with a classic camera and film! Some of his most famous images were shot on a Nikon F and F2, one of which saved his life during an ambush – the camera stopped a bullet!
Good quality Nikon F’s and F2’s can command quite high prices and as this was a bit of a whim I didn’t want to spend too much initially. After a bit of online research and refreshing my memory of the classic Nikons of the mid – to late 70’s I found a good condition FE2 chrome body for sale at an online retailer I use regularly. The FE2 was launched in 1983, replacing the FE adding 1/4000th shutter speed and TTL flash exposure and 1/250th flash sync. I have to say I was a bit surprised at the availability of 35mm film I thought I might have to search around a bit, but the same retailer had good supplies in stock.
I had decided to shoot only black and white, we have 2 professional labs very close by – I plan to use one for the initial developing, printing and scanning to CD, and the other for final printing of any decent images I can get! I’ve yet to decide whether I will end up printing from an edited digital scan or printing directly from the original negative. One of the benefits of owning a Nikon system for our pro work is that the basic Nikon F lens mount hasn’t changed since it was first introduced in 1959, even with the advent of digital cameras, several of the lenses I already own will work with this 30 year old camera I’m about to use!
Whilst waiting for the camera to arrive, I have been putting some thought into what I will use it for and some of the actual image making process, which will be so different to how I currently work.
I’ve ordered just 2 rolls of 36 exposure films – yes just 72 clicks of the shutter to create a masterpiece! They are Ilford Delta 100 and 400 ISO speeds, considered ‘slow’ by today’s standards, we regularly shoot at 6400 ISO in dimly lit churches!
Whilst I will have the luxury of editing a scanned digital version of the negative, using all the software and expertise gained over the last few years, I want to try and achieve as much ‘in camera’ image making as possible at the time of actual shooting. Maybe a red filter on the lens to darken blue skies, or a green one to lighten any foliage, a ‘soft focus’ to smooth skin and a vignette matte to darken the corners! Whilst the FE2 does have an auto aperture mode, I am planning to shoot manually as much as possible using a light meter for aperture and shutter speeds. I’m expecting to look at the back of the camera after taking a shot – but, no screen to ‘chimp’ and review, I’ll even have to manually wind the film to take the next picture!
So, watch this space for my first attempts!