Street Photography

CITI BUILDING, Kuala Lumpur, v.2, Edit C, AgfaPanAPX

CITI BUILDING, Kuala Lumpur, v.2, Edit C, AgfaPanAPX

Title: “citi BUILDING, Kuala Lumpur, v.2, Edit C, AgfaPanAPX” (style)
What is it? citi Bank Building.
Location: Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Notes: A TEST for myself, to capture a beautiful photo during the WORST part of the day for photography (around 1pm with hot sun, glaring off a GLASS and METAL building), and come up with something aesthetically pleasing from a Color or B&W Photo-Perspective. I chose B&W.

I love the glare at the top: So I wanted it to shine as a star. I also wanted to make a dark and rich B&W Image, mostly low-key but concentrate the focus on the building surface facing the sunlight.

This was vision of this scene, on this day.

Uploaded by BEHIND the LENS with Nawfal Nur on 28 Dec 08,

Opportunities & Preparedness…

Yellow Line, by Nawfal Nur, All Rights Reserved

“Yellow Line”
From the “Distinctive Georgetown” Portfolio
Bishop Street, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
© 2008 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

Opportunities & Preparedness…

Always being prepared, having your camera with you, actively seeking out photographs with your eyes wide open, and seeing things differently are some of the major keys to taking better, and more interesting photographs.

Earl Nightingale said many things that I always want to strive for, and here are a few snippets of those things:  ‘Study and Prepare Yourself…Your mind is your richest resource…Look at your work with NEW Eyes…Serve the customer better than anyone else serves the customer…

Earl also said:  “We become what we think about.”

J.B. Matthews wrote:  “Unless a person has trained himself for his chance, the chance will only make him rediculous, a great occasion is worth to a man exactly what his preparation enables him to make of it.”  I’m sure that Mr. Matthews meant all people in his statement (as Earl N., mentioned), and Matthews’ statement is indeed, very profound, and very humbling.     

This is why knowing as much about your field, whether it is photography, or computer science, or WHATEVER, that you are a first-class professional in your chosen field.  Also, that you are constantly educating yourself about your profession, keeping up with the times and surpassing your competition.

Special Note:  See…I wasn’t prepared just now, I lost all my tags and categories for some strange reason…I should have saved all first.  Even when you think you are ready, you may not be ready.

The following video link is of one of my favorite guitarists, and perhaps, one of the best guitarists in the world (at this point in time).  The video was not recorded in a studio, but rather, at the NAMM show/exhibition, so the audio quality is a bit off, but if you listen to the playing and observe the technique, you will soon see why I believe Jeff Loomis, of the band NEVERMORE, is one of the best players around.  I have mainly put this video up here, to demonstrate someone in the field of music, who I believe is a first-class, prepared, professional.  You can substitute anyone of your choice in this type of exercise.  Pick someone you know is skilled in their field, it can be your field or another one.  Just watching someone who is at the top of their game, pushes you a little (or a lot) more, to improve yourself.

 

 

A Few Images Added to My “35mm Photo” Set.

“Walking into the Light” by Nawfal Nur

Well, it’s been awhile since I first made my “35mm Photography” Page.

I think, and I must admit, I’ve been busy and a little absentminded…I forgot to add images to the page. My apologies for anyone who has gone to my 35mm Photo Page and found not much there.

I have improved it a little, and now you can see a few images that I took using my 1960’s, Nikon F camera. The photographs were taken in March, for the “This Planet” Project. 146 photographs (from about the same number of Photographers I would guess) covering subjects from around the world, were taken at approximately the same time. For me, in Penang, I think it was around 10:05pm when I shot most of the images for this project.

I still love shooting with film, no doubt about it. I must also admit, it is difficult to not love digital too. And, in this part of the world, getting specialty films, like the ones I used to love shooting with, B&W Ilford, KODAK HC, Kodachrome, IR, etc., is just not so possible. Many of these films may not be made anymore, and some are just plain not available in some areas.

Basic film…yes…can get.

Specialty film, not that I know of…very tough to get.

Well, as I locate older 35mm shots, or shoot new ones (which may not be too often), I’ll send them to my 35mm Photography Page. Thanks for looking!

Paint the World….with Truth?

Pigeon on Ledge-IMG 2418, Edit B-np

Yes, wouldn’t the “truth” be nice…

I’m a firm believer in the standard “X-Files” tagline: “The Truth is Out There!” But believe me, fellow brothers and sisters in Art, it is up to you to find it!

Well, as you may already have guessed, this is turning out to be absolutely different from what you thought it would be, at least, according to the “title” of the journal entry.

First, however, let me tell you about this image: It is a pigeon, of course, standing on the ledge of a very old, British Colonial, row house in Penang, more specifically, Georgetown.

These colorful shots of old houses is a new series I’m working on: I’m thinking of calling the series, “Distinctive Georgetown,” or something like that. My file of images is building in this filing cabinet of a photo-series – I better name the Series soon.

This is a macro detail of an old house on the corner of Jalan Irving and Jalan Krian.

As surreal as it sounds to me now, I was interviewed tonight on a local Radio show, and I think what I responded with to this questions, “What is it about a scene that makes you want to take a photograph?” – was pretty spot-on (my ‘approximate’ answer is below).

“For me,” I said, “I think very macroscopically, even when working on this Historic Preservation self-assignment. I look at the details and compose the details, the composition, the context of the image in my heart and mind first. If it seems like a worthwhile scene to work on, then I get my camera out, and I work on the shot I had developed in my mind.”

That’s a pretty close word-for-word, at least as far as I remember. My wife would probably say, “NONSENSE!” Oh…Not “nonsense” to my interview answer, but to my skills of listening and remembering. I think I have remarkable listening skills. She’s perhaps blinded by her own bias: She says I choose not to listen to her sometimes, and I tell her that it is a skill I’ve developed over the years, called “Selective Listening!” She’s not amused! I think it’s a hell’of’a skill and I’m considering offering it as a Short-Course for husbands of all time zones!

My Photography is not necessarily the “truth” – it is more closely linked to my Painted Version of the Truth! After all, there is only one reality, but for Photographic Artists, we provide the context for which that “truth“, that “reality“, is presented in the frame of a single shot at a particular time.

In my “Distinctive Georgetown” photographs, it is a close representation of “reality” but with my twist on each scene. That is what artists do, right, reveal their own personal vision to the canvas, the rock, the film, the print, or whatever.

In my next journal entry, I may discuss another type of “truth” that ALL Artists need to be on the lookout for and protect themselves against, and that “truth” is the sugar-coated kind, where the people you come across could be your savior, or the devil that stabs you in the back! And sometimes, if you’re not careful, they appear as your savior, then reveal themselves to you as the devil, their real identity.

Like I said, MAYBE, I’ll cover that topic next time. If I can perhaps, save one (or more) artists/photographers, from making mistakes that I’ve made, by telling a simple, if not, hard-learned tale of misery and the agony of deceit and treachery, then, it may be a tale worth telling…or at least I may highlight the finer points of the lesson….Mysterious? Yes… That’s OK…

More later.

Lebuh King – 1 Block, Edit B

Lebuh King – 1 Block, Edit B, originally uploaded by fine-grain. *See at the bottom of this entry, for a link to a larger view*

This week I’ll be starting a new project and quite busy for about three weeks: I suspect I won’t be on Flickr much, probably.

That being the case, today I wanted to work on a personal project: A very massive and time consuming project it ended up becoming. I wanted to do a big project for my Penang Architecture Portfolio…”Lebuh King – 1 Block, Edit B, is “The Project” I worked on today.

A side note: I’m not quite sure why the biggest image I could upload was stuck at 1024 wide – the file I uploaded was 3000+ pixels wide. Hummmm. I’ll see if I can reload the photo…(Update: No, the damned thing won’t load up the proper sized image, so What’ the ….)

OK, anyway, this is a FULL Block Photograph, taken along Lebuh King, in Little India, Penang, between Lebuh Gereja and Lebuh China.

I went early in the morning so to avoid some of the Sunday morning shoppers and tourists, etc. Nevertheless, as I started, there was one obstacle after another getting in my way…cars parked where I needed to be, people, shop carts, it was madness!

To say this is a huge task to take a panorama like this is an understatement. It’s easy to take a panorama with all sorts of distortion and uncorrected perspective, but to change the perspective on each shot and then attempt to make it line up, in a straight line afterward, is kind of a royal pain, but educational.

This image is a series of 16 shots.

Each image was Perspective Corrected (to the best fit for the adjoining of all images).

Each image was hand placed and aligned. Minor aberrations were removed and corrected. That said, this image is not exactly “factual” – it can’t be under the circumstances. Some architectural details needed to be removed just to adjoin the separate images.

Shooting time was about 30 minutes. Image processing and editing work was 16-hours.

The original image is nearly 26,000 pixels wide. I had to up my virtual memory to 6GB so that the software wouldn’t crash – could sure use a duel or quad core machine.

I discovered that probably the best way to do this type of shot is using a rail-system, like camera crews use in the making of movies. I would need to partition off a section of road (probably need Polis Permission to do that, LOLOL), set up a rail system, place my tripod and camera on there and roll it along down the road as I take pictures.

I used my tripod, but with all the bumps in the road, and the double parked cars in the way and other obstructions, I was never assured that my camera was in the same alignment each time the shutter was released – VERY PROBLEMATIC! Each time the angle changes even a little bit, the perspective is totally jacked-up! The frustrations of keeping everything lined up had to come later when working on the computer.

If I had had the time and the forethought, I would have taken with me a 100-foot measuring tape, lay out a very straight line, marked with spray paint, so I know where my tripod feet need to be placed, etc. However, I’m wondering if that constitutes “destruction or defacing of public property” by marking the road, hehehehehe. Oh well, may be worthwhile finding out, ; ^ )

That would solve the straight line problem, but then you have the other angles to keep lined up (the ups & downs and the level of the camera). Potholes are still a problem in this regard.

Because of the close working distance, in some sections of the road, not all the building parts were captured, so that is why some of the buildings are sliced. Other portions were just so badly out of perspective, that the only option was to chop them off at the offending level.

Using the “Stitching” software was tried first, but I was not happy with the way it creates unusual shaped merged images (sideway S-images), so that each image fits the puzzle (so to speak). Plus, the perspective is still messed up when using the “Stitch” software.

Anyway, I never tried shooting the entire length of a city block, so this is the resulting project for Lebuh King, from Lebuh Gereja to Lebuh China. A wonderful mix of historic architecture in one shot!

I just wish that you could see the 3000 pixel-wide sized image I had planned to upload to my gallery – Oh Well…This will have to do, but it’s not the same effect as the “Big-Ass” Shot!

Uploaded by fine-grain on 22 Oct 07, 1.52AM MYT.

PS: I hope this works – I’m uploading the larger 3000+ wide pixel image so you can get a better look at the details in this work. Wish me luck… Update: Nope, can’t seem to get an image that is “wide” to show up properly here or at Flickr. What the Hell! What! Panoramic Images are not taken into consideration for images sent to Flickr and WordPress. A little grumpy now…What’s wrong with scrolling a little sideways to see the full, big image on the screen, it’s not that big of a pain-in-the-ass to do that – Most people probably wouldn’t mind sliding the scroll bar sideways to see the larger image.

Well, sorry folks, but we are stuck with seeing the 1024-pixel-wide image. Oh Well, that’s life!

Lebuh King Historic Preservation Image, from Lebuh Gereja to Lebuh China, in Little India, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.  Photography by Nawfal Nur, All Rights Reserved - The image is meant for “viewing” only!  No copying or saving, please!

The 50th Merdeka, Vespa Scooter Convoy from Terengganu: A Photo-Essay of their Stop in Penang.

“The 50th Merdeka, Vespa Scooter Convoy from Terengganu: A Photo-Essay of their Stop in Penang.”

 

Story & Photos by Nawfal Nur

Copyright 2007

All Rights Reserved

 

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KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 94-BTL

Photo One: Yellow Scooter – Close-up of “vespa”, chrome trim and red light. The yellow paint was fairly dirty, so I took a tissue and wiped it down, and no one seemed to mind.  After all, the group had already traveled several hundred kilometers and a little dirt on the scooters would be natural.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 79-BTL

Photo Two: Orange Vespa with stormy sky in the background, Malaysian flag hanging down into the frame of this shot.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 83-BTL

Photo Three: KSK Member sitting on his Vespa and an array of other scooters around him.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 87-BTL

Photo Four: An elaborate eagle decoration on the front bumper of a Vespa scooter.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 112-BTL

Photo Five: A decorative hand-stamped chrome visor: The design is of a Vespa scooter.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 97-BTL

Photo Six: An Abstract shot of a pink Vespa’s front bumper and chrome horn covering.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 109-BTL

Photo Seven: An intimidating fixture of a Viking Warrior – Maybe it’s Thor!

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 96-BTL

Photo Eight: This is the oldest Vespa in the group: It is a circa., 1964 Vespa scooter, in almost perfect condition.

KSK, Vespa Club, Frame 101-BTL

Photo Nine: Just me adding a little “bling” to the shot, by using a ‘lens’ effect to highlight the Malaysian flag. The light falloff was expected; and this shot I took from standing in the first lane of traffic between short pauses in the zooming by of vehicles.

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© 2007 Nawfal Nur, All Rights Reserved

————————————

Little did I know that my wife would be coming home with an interesting photography challenge for me. However, proved to be a much needed break from the monotony of the day, and an educational-cultural experience that I had not expected.

KSK (Kelab Skuter Klasik), from Kuala Terengganu, is a branch of the Classic Vespa Scooter Club, here in Malaysia. This group was on a Vespa Scooter Convoy, in honor of the 50th year of Malaysian Independence (Merdeka).

Their ride started on the 22nd of August and would finish up on the 31st of August. They traveled from Kuala Terengganu to various stops, and ended up in Penang on the 27th of August, I had the opportunity to take some photographs of their classic, Italian Vespas. Their next destination was somewhere in Kedah.

Now, take into consideration that my Penang dialect of the Malay language is kind of atrocious, so I was trying to communicate badly with my Penang dialect, with dudes who were speaking perfectly great Terengganu-Malay dialect – what a fantastic interaction we had!

Here’s how this whole photo-shoot came about: My wife was coming home from work and noticed a group of about 20 guys, milling around a colorful array of vintage Vespa motor scooters. She naturally knew that I would want to photograph their bikes, and get a story out of it – that’s just the way I am!

The group of riders were resting near our home, about a 10-minute walk away. They had all gathered in an empty parking lot, out front of an unscrupulous night club: It gets shut down about every year for violations of various laws – that scummy place is a true ‘Menace To Society!’ However, where there’s scum, there is filth, and the two seem to exist in a symbiosis that benefits both sides, and leaves the neighborhood in disgust, but that’s another story.

My wife arrived home and told me the story of the scooter riders from Terengganu. After hearing her ‘CLIFFS NOTES’ version, I knew I needed to drop what I was doing, grab a camera and race over to the gathering.

It was 7:00PM when I left the house and the light outside was transforming into a light tobacco color. I knew I had little time to take some shots with available light, which is naturally my preference for this type of work. Artificial light coming from the camera, when shooting objects that range in distance from near to far, it tends to wash out the nearby objects and leaves the distant subjects in a fog of darkness. With limited time and no way to gather additional lighting equipment, I had to make due with my camera with a built in flash.

When I approached the riders, they seemed a bit perplexed: I can imagine some were thinking, “Why is this Mat Salleh (White Guy), coming up to us and checking out our rides?

I noticed that there were more scooters than riders, so some people were missing from their group of some 20 bikes. Maybe some had already gone for a bite to eat. Nevertheless, about 12 members had stayed behind with their rides.

I started by giving the group, the traditional Muslim “Salaam”, and no matter where you go, no matter what your ethnicity, or color of skin, a Muslim can break the ice with another Muslim by giving a heart-felt “Assalaam’mualaikum!” (Meaning: “Peace Be Upon You!”)

After that, I began the conversation with “Apa Khabar?” (How are you?), and then things went from there. I ran into some bumps and hills along the conversational journey, but I was generally making “heads & tails” of what was being said.

I asked them if I could take some photographs, and they were obliging. It didn’t appear that they had made any announcements to the Press, or had any Public Relations Plan for their trip. I assumed their long trip from Kuala Terengganu to Penang, and then Kedah, was simply out of patriotism for Malaysia’s special 50th birthday celebration, and for comradery with other Vespa club members.

The club members comprised of a mixture of seasoned, older riders, and very enthusiastic younger men; I would estimate their ages from 25 to 60 years old. Not that “fine lines” or “deep crevices” in the facial skin is a major concern of most men, you can still get a general estimate of a man’s age by their degree of “face linage.”

The younger club members were riding their father’s motor scooters. And, I imagine, the fathers had made similar trips for previous Merdeka Day celebrations. The scooters they were riding, were from the years 1964 to 1979. I’m sure that some of the club members were considerably younger than the older Vespas in their convoy.

Each bike had some elaborate decoration on it, along with one or more Malaysian flags (Jalur Gemilang), and were fastened somewhere on the handlebars or the back ends of the scooters. Each scooter, I noticed, was equipped with a spare tire, a few tools, bottles of water and odds & ends that may be necessary for a long trip.

By the time the chit-chat was over, and I had received their permission to take the shots, the sun was dropping behind the hills and it was already 7:10PM. I knew I was dangerously close to running out of usable ambient light, and I had to quickly pick a theme for this photo-essay, and then shoot as many shots as possible to cover the theme. If that wasn’t enough, to do it all in less than 30-minutes was a chore, but a pleasant one.

I chose to concentrate on the details of the antique Vespa scooters. And, coming from a Fine Art background and preferring that style, I decided to shoot this story in that way. Daylight was burning away fast and I didn’t want to depend too much on the flash in my camera, a very trusty and dependable Canon A620, that works fantastically in the studio for my Fine Art work, but not ideal for photojournalism. Nevertheless, it was the camera I had in my hands, and I was adjusting and adapting as I lost light.

The bikes were parked haphazardly in the parking lot, so I weaved in and out of the bikes looking for outstanding examples of Vespa craftsmanship, and handmade scooter accessories. There was a decorative eagle gracing the front bumper of one bike. A metal viking decoration on the front plate of another, and a hand stamped chrome visor with an outline of a scooter gracing the headlamp of another bike. It was a treasure trove of photographic goodies.

It wasn’t the most organized photo shoot I’ve been involved in, I have to admit that. All that I knew was that I had about 20 minutes to photograph. Plus, these guys weren’t paid models, so I didn’t want to take too much of their time; they were tired after a long, hot day’s ride and were still looking for a hotel where they could rest for the night.

Before it was time to “call the game due to darkness,” (See Note 1, below), I thought it may be nice to get a group shot of a few of the members with their scooters. The only suitable spot to line them up was on the sidewalk. That also meant that the only suitable spot to take photographs was from the middle of a very busy metropolitan roadway! It wasn’t the safest spot to plant myself for taking photographs, but I’m a bit crazy, and thought…”Why Not!

By this time, my wife had come back to observe the shoot: So, I put her to work!

She became the translator for me, to explain what I wanted from the members, and where to place the bikes. She also helped with the art direction: She’s multi-talented!

Yeah, OK! Technically, at this point, I should have been setting up some extra lighting: I’m a disgrace to “Strobists” everywhere! (See Note 2, below).

I knew that I should have a couple remote speedlights to get a decent group shot. But Hey! I was just trying to time traffic properly, to “safely” jump into the middle of the speedway for a few seconds; grab a shot, and then leap out of the way before getting run over by lunatic drivers. Attempting to set up strobes in the middle of the road seemed like lunacy to me, so I ditched that idea and just took a few shots with the tiny internal flash, and hoping for the best.

By 7:40PM, the sun had dropped out of sight behind the hills and the shooting was over.

We said our goodbyes to the members and wished them luck and safe journey for the rest of their convoy around North Malaysia. At that point, my wife and I were about to head home. It was sort of funny, as we were about to leave, one of the guys asked my wife, who I am in relationship to her. She explained that I was her husband. I guess, I just assumed they knew she was married to the crazy white-dude!

I spent the remainder of the evening getting the shots reviewed, edited, and then re-edited. I drafted a letter to a local newspaper, believing that this story would be a good Merdeka, local interest item. Links to the images were provided in the email to the Editor, so it would be easy for them to view the shots online, and at their leisure. I made it clear that if they did not reply to my correspondence, then I would be publishing the story and photographs to my Photography Journals (“Behind the Lens“). Sad to say….I didn’t hear anything from the Newspaper.

Well, their loss, I guess. I suppose if another newspaper or magazine wants to pick up this story, then that would be great – just contact me with details.

Otherwise, I’m just happy to know that I fulfilled what I felt was a “mission” to get this dedicated group of Vespa Club Members, some exposure about their historic, 50th Merdeka celebration, scooter convoy.

Note 1: An old Baseball ruling [started around 1930’s], where during doubleheaders, a daylight game could be stopped by the Umpire due to darkness, because the stadium lights weren’t allowed to be turned on during the daylight game. In the 1950’s, this ruling was relaxed.

Note 2: “Strobist” is a photography blog on professional lighting with Speedlites and other small flash units.

Photography Details:
Camera
: Canon A620
Place: Penang
Time: I only had about an half hour with them, from 7:10PM to 7:40PM. It started getting quite dark, so shooting conditions were NOT ideal. I had to use higher ISO settings and weak flash caused some problems (ARGH! ) However, under the circumstances, I did my best!
Software: Some retouching (reduce digital noise ) with Noiseware, and Lighting/Contrast adjustments with PhotoImpact 10.

Double Decker Bike Rider in Penang

 

Double Decker Bike Rider in Penang, by Nawfal Nur

Today proved that the “best camera” you have is the one that you remembered to bring with you!

I had just picked up my kids from school and was on my way back to Tg. Tokong, looking for Nasi Kandar – not the best thing to do around 3pm (the food is not as hot or fresh at that time – IMHO), but we looked around anyway. Then, out of nowhere came two people riding these double decker bikes with all sorts of odds-and-ends strapped in the front, the rear and the sides.

They passed me by once and I thought, “Man, I got my camera…I need to get a shot of one of them,” but traffic was bad and they were headed in the opposite direction.

We didn’t find any nasi kandar open near Hillside at that time of day, but we did see a Malay food stall in operation near the reclamation project. So, we turned the car around and headed back.

Low and behold, there were the two bikers and they were headed in the same direction I was going. I sped up a little observing all traffic safety rules and regulations, of course, and overtook the two bikers, and pulled off to the side of the road about 50 meters ahead of them.

As I was getting my camera out of my Crumpler, one of the bikers blew right by me, but the girl biker was a little behind, so I had one chance, at least, to get a photo.

I quickly set my camera on Aperture Priority (I wanted good depth-of-field) and checked the shutter speed. It was a nice bright, yet overcast afternoon; nevertheless, I was able to manage a 1/250 second shutter speed – enough for this situation.

BLAMO!” Well, my camera doesn’t actually speak, but I pushed the shutter button and got one shot.

I think she was totally oblivious to me taking her picture as she rode by: She was listening to music as she peddled head & shoulders above everyone on that very high bike.

What this pair appeared to have done was to weld another bike frame to one with wheels. They peddle using the peddle from the top bike so the chain goes vertical down to the bottom frame. The steering mechanism is attached from the top frame to the bottom frame.

I’m just wondering how they started out their ride. I would suspect, they have to use a chair or ladder to get on and then never stop until they get to where they want to go and make sure they time the traffic lights; or that is, blaze on right through the red lights like so many of the Penang motorbike riders do, ignoring most traffic laws…but that’s another issue.

Yes, indeed, the best camera in your stable of cameras is the one that you have with you!

Film or Digital?

Burnt out Car, v.5
Title: “Burnt-out Car, v.5”
Creation Date: 3 Mar 07
(c) 2007 Nawfal Nur

See Other Images from this Outing!

 

Film or Digital?” At this point, some people might say: “Who Cares!” And at that point, I guess I would have to say: “Well, it’s not so much that I care about it or want to argue either side; nevertheless, I may want to say something about what I have learned.”

If you want to read the “argument” (mainly pro-film) side of this well-tenderized debate, there’s a good thread at Lightstalkers.

Why not use both? I like that idea.

Often, I think a client may have something to say about whether a job is to be shot with film or digital. In this instant gratification world we live in, digital appears to be the winner. That’s not to say that you can’t jump back into the film-saddle again for personal work…if you want.

The other night, March 3rd to be exact, I decided to shoot some 35mm film.

The digital side of my brain was telling me: “Nawfal – you must be MAD…WHAT! Are you CRAZY…LOCO…GILA! Why do you want to be so ‘wild’? You know digital now…no need to risk so much by reverting back to film…NOoooooooooooo!” Well, it didn’t go exactly like that, but sort of.

Of course, the analog side of my brain was telling me, “Good Nawfal…you can do it, you shot film for years before you became so dependent on LCD screens to edit each shot and to do that nasty ‘chimping’ thing!

So, what did I decide to do?

I took my NIKON F out of my dehumidifier box, switched out the Nikkor 35-70mm zoom for my SIGMA 24mm f/2.8, and loaded up the camera with some Fuji Superia 200 ASA film.

To add to the difficulty factor, the power cell in my “F” was dead, so no metering…every exposure would be a guess . To top it off, I decided to go out for some nighttime shooting, just after 10PM.

OK!

Here are the circumstances of this shoot, summed up so far: I was shooting film with a 35+ year old camera with no active metering system, using a newer lens not specifically made for the Nikon F, and trying to rekindle my respect for film by shooting at night.

The only other pieces of equipment I took out were my tripod, a Bogan Pro 3001 with Manfrotto #352 Ball & Socket Head; and, a Vivitar 2800 Auto Thyristor flash, which is probably as old as my Nikon camera, but it works beautifully!

Finding subject matter was not the issue; once I was out and about, all kinds of ordinary subjects were popping out at me and just waiting for their photo to be taken.

It was that moment when I put my tripod down in front of the Burnt-out Car, that I began looking at the subject and the lighting and the environment, and realized the effect that digital photography has had on my photography: I had become complacent!

I had become nearly reliant on digital technology to instantly show me the results.

With digital photography, of course, I still have to think about the shot, but with analog, I REALLY have to think about the shot before I take it.

For the obvious reasons you have to meticullously consider all aspects of a photo session when shooting film. Film is not so cheap in the long run; and, waiting for the photo lab to process and print your photographs can make for a stressful day, especially after you have become accustomed to seeing your photos instantly on an LCD screen.

Well, the car was not going anywhere so I had the opportunity to carefully consider the exposure combinations. I experimented with aperture settings ranging from f/16 to f/2.8. Shutter Speeds varied as well, from 1 second to 2 minutes. Basically, each shot was an educated guesstimate.

I went through the 24 frames within a couple of hours, but the time seemed to move faster than that – I guess I was enjoying myself, getting familiar with photo equipment I had not used in years.

The next day, the film was dropped off at the photo lab; however, because I wanted the technician to take time inspecting the negatives, and only to make prints from “strong” looking frames, the process took a couple of hours.

21 of the 24 shots were printable. Of the 21 photographs, I really liked the results of six images, and four of these shots can be seen here. In terms of film usage, and considering that all the exposure settings were educated guesses, the percentage of shots that I “liked” is pretty good.

After this little exercise, I’ve realized a few things about myself, and in general, about the use of film for photography.

  1. Film and development can be a bit expensive compared to Flash or SD memory devices, that is, in the long run.
  2. Film cameras can last you decades of use without needing to upgrade; whereas, every two or three years digital technology seems to become quite dated and needing upgrades.
  3. Film cameras, such as my trusty Nikon F, can be used in ANY circumstance and without the need for batteries, wires, computers, or electricity.
  4. I can’t say that digital photography has made me a better photographer. I think that it has made me a more complacent photographer by depending on the technology a little too much. That’s not so good, but it’s not so bad either – it’s just a different way of photographing – perhaps digital has made me a little less instinctive in the ways of photography.
  5. Last, and I’m sure not least, is that no matter how hard I force the negative, slide, or printed photo into the floppy disk slot, there is no way in hell that they are going to show up on my computer screen, or on the WEB, without me first digitizing them. And let me add, there is no way I was going to get rid of those pesky dust marks without using photo editing software.

So, ho-hum! Film images still end up needing to be in digital format for their use in the digital world.

Nevertheless, if you are strictly a digital shooter, give a roll of film a try, that is, if you have a film camera around. The experience can be a real eye opener, and a pleasant one at that.