Through a Window Darkly

I’ve never enjoyed digital photography as much as film.

I’ve been shooting digital since 2001 or 2002. When did the Nikon D100 get released? That is how long I’ve photographed in digital. Yeah, 2002, so almost 20 years.

I was a freelancer for Foster and Associates in Atlanta then, and Louis the owner called me. It was pretty simple. “Bill”, he said, “We’re moving to digital from film. Will you continue to shoot for us?” I responded, “Sure”, or something to that effect.

I then did a cost-benefit analysis of the Nikon D100, ignorant of all things digital, incorrectly assuming some things, not asking the right questions, like how my collection of lenses that I knew so well on my F100, would actually work on the D100. Duh! But I figured out that if I made the jump, I would break even. Of course, I was not going to tell Louis, “Hey give me a few minutes and I’ll let you know.” No, you fake it ’til you make it, and I knew I would figure it all out.

So I drove down to the main showroom of Wolf Camera on 14th Street, walked over to the Pro Counter, and asked for a new Nikon D100. Wolf Camera and Video was a large chain with stores all over the Southeast. That was before online stores took over. I see stores in North Carolina, Alabama, etc. They have one location in Atlanta now, devoted to printing, not gear.

I don’t recall the salesman’s name, but he was well known around Atlanta. We had one of those camera store friendships. That was what photographers did then. We’d gather at the camera store to talk. If things were not crowded we’d talk quite a while. Anyway, the D100 set me back $2000, U.S., and that was twenty years ago. A Nikon D6 will set you back around $6500.00 today. I purchased the D100, said “Ouch” to myself, and thanked my friend for the pain.

Then came the next joy of relearning photography, and before my next assignment. I do recall the D100 was a pain in the rear to use compared to my F100. I did not miss a shot with the F100. Lordy, it was fast! The D100 was painfully slow. Fill flash on the F100 was a breeze. Flash on the D100 gave me indigestion. But, I made it work. Maybe the early pain soured me to digital. I am good at it now, it is fast, colors are amazing, but it’s not in my soul. It is just too… digital.

Now that film has made a comeback, and I’m not on assignment except for stock photos and my family, I am doing more film photography. I have a beautiful, forty year old Nikon FM2N and three classic lenses in my beat up Domke bag; a 50mm f1.4, a 28mm f2.8, and a 105mm f2.5. It is all manual. I don’t worry about extra batteries. I carry extra rolls of film.

If I shoot color film I send it up to Memphis Film Lab to develop. I develop my own black and white.

I went out driving around yesterday and visited some familiar towns that I had not explored. I set the meter on the Nikon to 1600. I knew in advance I was going to push the Tri-X film. I was going for grain and contrast.

I found a lot of old, rundown buildings. The window frame, the oddly placed fencing and door on display inside, and the sky with clouds reflected behind me interested me. The wires hanging down inside were a nice feature.

Here’s the technical detail: Nikon FM2N, with 50mm f1.4 lens. Tri-X rated at 1600. 1/1000th f11. Developed in Ilfosol 3, diluted 1:9, for 14 minutes at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Nice tight grain, which I like. Grain is silver and it is not the same as digital noise.


~ by Bill on September 14, 2021.

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