I Have No Idea What I'm Doing
Published 25 January 2019
So here it is, I'm starting a blog. Massive disclaimer - I'm not a writer, so go easy on me. Please. I wanted to start writing to give a more personal touch to my website. I have an About page but other than that it's just photos. Where better to start than my new love of analogue photography. I have scrolled through many blogs that were a little too detailed for a total newcomer to film like me, so here I want to create a space for those starting out. Hopefully my experiences so far can help.
For my birthday last September, I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful 1979 Japanese-built Asahi Pentax K1000 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens (thanks, Mum and Dad). The last time I had used a film camera was on a school history trip to France and Belgium in 2001, so I knew this was going to be a steep learning curve.
The K1000 appealed to me because it is totally manual and mechanical – set the ISO from the film then pick an aperture and shutter speed. It’s also rugged and pretty heavy. There’s a built-in light meter that’s powered by a tiny LR44 battery (still going strong after four months) and which tells you how the exposure is looking. That’s it. Off you go and take some photos.
I’m a self-taught photographer and have been hoovering up information over the last few years. When you start out with digital, it helps that you can see the results straight away and work iteratively to figure out what works and what your style is. It’s a bit more of a slow process with film but I have been taking plenty of notes. I put a lot more time and effort in to composing the image and thinking about the settings I need and want. I shoot with full-frame Sony digital cameras, so when I first looked through the viewfinder of this traditional SLR, it was already very different. There’s not much information to go on, which was in equal parts liberating and daunting.
My camera does have a bit of a niggle sometimes; after the shutter fires, the mirror stays locked up. A quick workaround (not sure why it works, though) is to poke the curtain at the back and the mirror pops down again. Completely unexplained. If you might have the answer, let me know in the comments below.
I had mentally written off the first few rolls as practice but took notes as I went along. I also checked the exposure against the Sony so I knew I was happy that the light meter was working properly. My favourite photo has to be the Manchester sign on Sydney Road in Brunswick. I'll admit that I got lucky with the Kombi driving past but it really gives the image a timeless feel.
Once the sample rolls were back it was time to experiment with other types of film. Stay tuned for my next post on my experience with legendary black and white film Ilford HP5+.
Sample Photos: Asahi Pentax K1000 with 50mm f/1.4 lens and Kodak Gold Film. Developed /scanned at Hillvale, Brunswick.