It's been a long time that I've been looking forward to experience photography using an old 35mm film camera. I love vintage film photography look and feel.
I've got very close to buy one at different times but for different reasons I never did at the end. Somehow, I always felt it'd naturally "come to me" when the time would be right. The last chance I had of getting one was when we visited London last September, at Portobello Market. I played (and played, until my girl looked angry at me) for some time with a couple of them but I finally walked away with empty hands, again.
Right after we came back to Spain, I got a call from my mom: "Hey Sergio, you know what? The other day I was reviewing and organizing some boxes in the garage and you won't' believe what I found... Your dad's old Pentax camera! I'm not sure if it's working at all but...". I can't describe how much excited I suddenly was! Next thing I did was ordering some black&white Ilford HP5 Plus film rolls via Amazon. Wow! This was a real surprise!
The camera I got was one my dad bought in the 70's, an old trusty SLR "Pentax MX" which came with a 50mm prime lens. Perfect combo to start playing with it! This camera's been almost 40 years kept with no use, at all, 40 years! I have to say it's in perfect condition and it took me a while until I learned the basics of how to handle this precious tool and got the first roll of film properly loaded :-)
I forced myself to forget for some days, as much as possible, my current Nikon D750 DSRL and focus on learning how to shoot with this old Pentax, since there's a huge learning curve to get used to all new manual controls, manual focusing, rudimentary light metering mode, etc. Also, the fact that each frame now becomes much more relevant (only 36 exposures in that roll of film) forces you to adapt your shooting style, your precision and timing accurately. I won't extend too long in details but I have to say that this experience is making me a much better photographer overall:
- Having to focus manually makes things much more difficult but at the same time opens up your creativity for new compositions since I'm no longer restricting myself by any focusing points.
- Not being able to quickly check the back of your camera screen forces you to, more than ever, nail your exposures and stay connected to the story or scene you're photographing.
- In today's digital era we are overwhelmed by images and shooting pictures is virtually "free". The fact that now I have to pay for film, developing and printing is making me be more careful and precise with each time I press the camera shutter.
- I have to anticipate the "moment" lot of times so I can capture it timely, especially due to the manual focusing technique when going after moving subjects, like children playing or running. It becomes quite a bigger challenge.
- It's great to carry such a lighter camera whenever I go outside, it's small and you're more discrete than with today's larger DSRLs.
- You can't beat that look of real B&W film, it's just timeless.
There are more things for sure to share but these are just some of the main experiences I've got so far. It's been like a "Karate Kid" kind of training: When going back to my current Nikon D750, I've put in practice all those experiences unconsciously, in a way that make me more accurate in all areas.
It has waited 40 years in a box...
Before finishing this post I'd like to share one of the pictures I'm feeling more proud of so far, which is the following I made of my daughter Sofía. There's no preparation or anything similar to that in this photograph, it's all spontaneous. I had to anticipate the exposure parameters, the composition, the focus (at f1.8 wide open!), the light and quickly be ready to get that beautiful moment, that half of a second when she stopped next to me and I said: "Sofía!" and then click! That gorgeous look, captured forever. When I shared the photograph with my dad, joking about it, I said to him: "That camera waited 40 years, for me to be born, bring Sofía to this world and take this portrait of her" :-)
I'll talk to you soon,