Every morning except when there are gales or very high winds, rain I don't mind, I go for a ride on one of my mountain bikes along a regular circuit. I have combined bike rides with photography for many years and because of my habit of having each camera and its spare lenses etc in individual bags, the bag I take on any given morning, rather decides the kind of photography I will be doing.
Whilst on all day 'expeditions' such as going to an event or a wildlife shoot where I will pack a couple of cameras, on my morning ride I deliberately restrict myself to one otherwise you just end up carrying a ridiculous amount of gear and if the light isn't good, I won't take any pictures anyway !
Today it was a bit cold but as a consequence the air was clear and visibility very good right across the Bristol Channel to the Welsh coast. I have a bag with my Canon FD lenses in and the camera bodies I put with those are either the Canon A1 or the Canon Ftb. Having just finished a roll of film using the A1, the other day I had loaded the FTb camera body into that bag and that was the one I took with me today.
There is no gallery with this post because the film has to be sent away for developing ! No what this post is about is something else and centres around this particular camera body because of my three 35mm cameras, this one is the oldest and represents the designs that were around during the 1960s/70s. Whilst ergonomically, not as good as modern cameras, the first thing you notice is both the weight and solidity of it, no plastics here, all hewn from metal. I stopped several times to take pictures and the combination of being suitably clad not to feel the cold plus some beautiful and gentle light, it was a truly enjoyable and engaging experience which set me thinking.
The metering on this camera is typical of its era, “matched needles” which is one needle with often a ring on the end of it and another plain one, to get a correct exposure you must ensure that they intersect before you press the shutter. Focusing is of course totally manual with a centre prism of some type to help you get it right, the ISO or ASA film speed was determined by the film you loaded although you could over ride its “native speed” and push process during development if you needed to but this would apply to the whole roll and not to an individual frame.
However this morning, I was particularly enjoying the experience, true the light was good but beyond that it led me to ponder why. Was it because this was the era and the technology I knew when I first took an interest in photography proper and it therefore took me back to my younger days ? I decided it wasn't that at all, it was quite simply, the uncomplicated nature of the whole thing, although you have far fewer bells and whistles compared with modern cameras the feeling of being in charge of what the outcome will be is far stronger than you get from them. It was even enjoyable to have to wind each picture on but also I came to feel that the “slow” nature of the whole process including having to await the negatives coming back to you before you knew that your efforts were worthwhile was very much part of its charm.
Obviously I could spend the £100 (roughly) and set myself up to develop my own negatives at home but I will wait a time before I make that decision, it is less the money and more how much use I will get from taking on another process. I don't need a darkroom because as I have a decent photo scanner, I scan negatives straight to the computer where they are converted to positive images on the fly, once there I can manipulate them in the “digital darkroom” the same as any digital photographic files.