(re)discovering the $50 film camera

A couple weeks ago Brian Auer at Epic Edits Weblog mentioned a project he was putting together and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since, for a number of reasons. The short story is this: the project encourages readers to either buy or use an existing $50 film camera, then write a review on the camera and submit a roll of images for a chance to win a classic Diana+ camera and Ilford film. Brian will fill you in on all the details right here (I encourage you to check it out).

Why does this interest me so much?

1. If you haven’t shot film this is an excuse to do so without breaking the bank
2. If you have shot film it’s an excuse to buy a reasonably priced new toy
3. The resulting camera reviews will be a lasting resource for all photographers

There are many other good reasons, those are the highlights. For many this is a nostalgic trip and for others it will be their first time around with film. That should make it interesting.

8_10_08_008It just so happens I shot a roll of Fuji 400 color neg film this past weekend in my Nikon FE. I plan to follow the contest closely and right now I’m setting up my home film scanning setup. In coming weeks I’ll write about how I’m setting up the scanning operation. I also have strong feelings about shooting film (and film cameras) and running that roll through this past weekend brought it all home. Thanks to Brian for giving me an excuse to break all of this stuff back out.

Attached to this post are some initial scanned images from the recent roll. They were scanned with my Nikon Coolscan V ED on automatic, pretty much (so this is what scanned Fuji 400 Superia color neg film looks like). As mentioned in a prior post, I’m setting about documenting “my town” and will be posting those images to my Flickr account.

Why do I seem to end up in downtown alleyways photographing patterns on walls? Honestly, I don’t see decay, I see very subtle colors and perfect impressionist compositions, the very things I wish I could use a paintbrush to create. But, sadly lacking in painting skills, I’m at least able to spot patterns and colors I like and am able to capture them in a photograph. It’s not something everyone finds appealing, but to me it’s urban and impressionistic and feels like a slideshow for a classic Coltrane jazz track. The colors, tonalities, grain and mechanics of 35mm film just seem so right for this application.

That’s one of the things that makes photography so cool. It gives us all a way to express ourselves, how we feel and the things we enjoy. Whether we strive to take pretty pictures, preserve memories or express a feeling, it’s all a matter of mastering the skills necessary to tell our particular story, a never ending journey of discovery. And it never hurts to (re)discover the old tools and ways of doing things.