At the time I got back into film again I happened to be taking an evening course in portrait photography at a local college. The usual mix of Canon & Nikon shooters with a mirrorless Sony thrown in for good measure. As usual, we were chatting about our weekend shoots and (obviously) latest purchases. When I said that I had bought a Nikon FE and some film (it was Ilford Delta 100) you could have heard a pin drop.
So while we shot our various lighting setups with our D610s, D800s, Canons etc I would occasionally take out the 30 or 40 year old Nikon FE, attach the Pocket Wizard triggers – which worked perfectly well with the old camera – and fire off a few shots.
I didn’t know what to expect, having not really shot film for many years and certainly, I’d never taken formal portraits in a studio setting using film. To be honest, when I did use film back in the last century my camera was generally set on Automatic even then. It was only after using a digital camera for several years and taking some courses that I wondered if my ability to shoot digitally could transfer back to film.
I’m a Nikon D610, full frame digital man, or so I thought. So not being brave enough at that time to develop film myself, I got my film processed and the next week I took my results into my classmates and put them up for review with the professor. The prof had a rule that we had to print our work, no slideshows or jpg viewers, so I had printed mine onto luster paper, a good choice for black and white. The reaction from the guys and the prof convinced me. These were pictures worth taking. The main subjects all wanted copies of the prints and I’d taken another step back into the analogue world.
Since then I’ve taken portraits of family & friends in both film & digital, 35mm and medium format 120, and I intend to take the 35mm back to my next, advanced, portrait photography class. And this time, I’ll be able to develop the shots myself.
All images ©Chris McPhee
Chris McPhee is originally from Manchester, England but has lived just outside Toronto, Canada since 2003. He started shooting with a Petri GX-1 bought from Dixons in 1982, moved to digital in 2005 and now shoots both digital and film. He values the thoughtfulness that film enforces over the ability to get a quick fix from the DSLR. Having made a move back to film he’s now taken advantage of the tremendous second-hand prices for analog equipment and has set up a darkroom so he can develop and print his own films.
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