Friday, November 29, 2013

New Found Respect

I photographed a wedding recently. I was torn over which camera(s) to bring with me. Of course the Nikon D7000 with a variety of lenses and flash were the base that most of the photos would be taken with. It is just foolish to not bring digital to a wedding these days. I will tell you though that the inevitable happened and I only kept about 30% of the images I took. It is the digital demon that causes people to just snap away without enough thought that inhabited me. I am not ashamed because I ended up with a few hundred shots that I am proud to give the happy couple whereas if I had been shooting only film, they would have had a fraction of that. I took two film cameras to the wedding. First was my '39 Voigtländer Bessa 6x9. The other was my Graflex Speed Graphic with the Graflex Optar 135mm f/4,7 lens and six sheets each of Portra 400 and Kodak CSG x-ray film. This is commonly called a "press camera" because back in the day, it was a camera used by many newspaper photographers. These guys would carry these cameras around with the flash unit attached and pockets full of film holders and flashbulbs. The flashbulbs are somewhat prone to igniting from a little static discharge, so caution must be taken when carrying them in the pocket of wool pants, especially in the winter. Many photographers suffered burns on their thighs from accidental ignitions. I didn't put any bulbs in my pockets, but I did attach the flash unit and brought along some clear GE #5 and blue #5B flashbulbs. The camera weighs in at about 6.6lb with the flash adding another 2.4lb. Add a film holder and you are getting close to 10 pounds. That is not bad to lift up and take one or two shots, but those old timers lugged that rig around for hours maybe, depending on the event they were covering. So respect to those guys who were beat reporters in the 30's, 40's and 50's. It may not have been high art, but it was hard work and low pay.

Here is one of the shots I took with the Speed Graphic using Portra 400 and a #5B blue flashbulb. The color balance came out perfect, which I didn't really expect. The scanner may have contributed, but it looks just like Portra should look. I might have missed the focus just a little, but since they are dancing, a little blur is non-fatal to the photo. I like the way the flashbulb and accompanying 7-inch reflector light the scene. It is definitely 'hotter' in the center and less so at the edges, causing a sort of natural vignetting.

I am happy that I could bring the old technology into service again. I am also happy that Kodak and others are still making film with the newest emulsions (yes, I miss some of the old ones). The photos we are able to create with this pairing are 'classic' in their own rights and have a look to them that is unmistakably film. Drop me some feedback if you like shooting film in old cameras.Wedding Dancing