Making a Start

It is I suppose the habit of a lifetime in that I always have several projects on the go at any one time and an insatiable thirst to explore others. Coming back to my 35mm black & white project which started towards the end of last year, I realised I hadn't posted any pictures from that here and ought to so here some with some observations to go with them on wetfilm generally.

But First

Although I certainly had no need to, I have added a further 35mm camera to my collection the picture of which is the header to this post a Canon EOS RT which is basically an EOS 630 with an interesting technical difference.

As ever, it was a bit of an impulse buy though driven by curiosity concerning something called a pellicle mirror which was designed, by using a fixed mirror to speed up action shooting through cutting out the shutter lag caused by a moving mirror in an SLR. In fact there is a pellicle mirror version available of one of my other cameras, the EOS 1n but, I didn't want to duplicate a camera I already had which I love as is plus, because they are rare, the RS version of it are also relatively speaking, quite expensive. Mind you and whilst there is a certain risk in buying 50 year old second hand cameras prices aren't that high, I've yet to spend £100 on any one of them this far.

In fact each of the four 35mm cameras that I have acquired represent a different and unique experience as far as taking pictures is concerned and that kind of puts back a high degree of “engagement” to the whole process which is enjoyable.

The Black & White Experience

It may just be me but I find it takes me sometime to adjust to a new camera, computer etc, I need to get 'familiar' with the device or process before I can start getting the best out of it. With my first 3 cameras, the first order of priority was to run a test roll of film through each, to check that they worked properly and so on, one of them didn't and had to go off for a warranty repair which, it being an old camera, took some time to complete.

Then of course, having sent these films off for “develop only” my next task was getting my scanning technique for getting the negatives loaded on to my PC right and that was a game in itself because it is not just the resolution you scan at but also, how 'clean' your handling is of the negatives to avoid imperfections caused by dust. Eventually I worked through all that and loaded up my second round of films for each camera and from there started to get focused (no pun intended), on the whole “black & white” experience.

In terms of sharpness and focus, my modern DSLR cameras do a far better job than these vintage ones but, that is not what shooting in B&W is about besides which, it is not a competition because digital and film are chalk and cheese. Although the below examples don't exploit it yet, as a photographer you start to see how much character analogue delivers, its not as sharp as digital but the grain and the way the light hits the emulsion produces a unique end result. Additionally, I could finally understand that although I have often experimented with turning a colour image into black and white in post production using software, such digital conversions (at least those I've tried), lacked any authenticity.

Shooting in black and white is about finding the right subject with the right range of textures and using the light in almost a cinematic way. I'm not there yet but I will keep trying...

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