Going old school

I’ve be troubled lately around my photography. Frustrated really. Since I’ve moved over to digital, I’ve felt little creative energy to shoot outside of action photography, where digital really shines. All the auto settings and ISO flexibility offer few constraints. I find I just point and shoot with little to no thought involved. And I take too many photos that have to be culled through. Boring.

I caught this blurb on the Aperture blog recently:

I still love the instant gratification a digital camera gives me, but the images for some reason are just not that interesting to me at the moment. …So one night, I woke up and had the thought, “why don’t I just shoot some film and have some fun?” This was of course immediately followed by the thought, “How the hell would I do that?” …So, I sat there and wondered about it for a while. What camera would I use? What type of film? Do they even make the film I used to use anymore?

I can totally relate. After my photo workshop last year where we were shooting 4 x 5 negatives, my interest in film was rekindled. But having never shot medium/large format before, I was at a loss as to where to start. So, I sat on my butt. Recently, several friends have been fueling my inspiration to getting back out there and shooting film. I just dusted off the old 35mm Nikon. The view finder is glorious (bright and large) compared to my digital. I also ordered a cheap 50mm prime and will start shooting some black & white.

I’ve also started exploring range finder cameras like the Leica M series. Not only are they beutiful from an industrial design perspective, they’re simple as hell from a UI perspective. Tried as I might, I couldn’t find a digital camera as beautifully designed and simple as a Leica (aside from a Leica M8 which still needs some improving). Why is that? Do photographers really need the hundreds of features in a typical digital SLR? Interacting with all those menus drives me crazy. In any event, I’ve never shot with range finders and I’d like to start. So, I might see about picking up some sort of 35mm range finder at some point.

Then there’s medium format which I’ve never shot. A friend is going to introduce me to some of the Mamiya cameras. I’d like to experiment with them a bit. Finally, in the fall I’m going to start taking some classes at Photographic Center Northwest. Todd said it’s the best way to get out there shooting regularly. Anyone care to join me for Black & White 1?


2 Comments on “Going old school”

  1. Jana says:

    Speaking of all those menus… we need to have lunch soon so you can show me how the heck to do things like shoot “aperture” mode, etc. My old film camera was so much easier.
    Can’t wait to see what your old school film turns up.

  2. brownell says:

    Same here, can’t wait to see some of the results.
    Also, before spending all that money on a Leica, try shooting in manual mode and use RAW. The manual mode will slow you down and make you think again while processing RAW in Aperture or Lightroom can make you feel like you are back in the dark room – you can push the image data around so much more than you can with JPG (regardless what Ken Rockwell says).
    Of course, RAW will also cause you to pause and likely slow down some because the file size is so big 🙂

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