Experiments in Photography: 35mm Film

# KeaOnFilm

Nikon FM2 film camera held by Christmas lights in Budapest

It's 2020: the world is ending, all our leaders are failing us, and travel is out of the question. Well, what better time is there to experiment with photography?


I feel I must begin this with a confession. Until mid-2020, I can confidently attest that I have never before been tempted into joining the resurging trend of analogue cameras. Usually an unconscious sceptic for anything popular, once I was introduced to it by my partner, I fell rapidly and quite happily into the sinkhole of vintage novelty.


Film photograph of white cat

What attracted me the most to analogue was not the oft-romanticised visual aesthetics of film stocks, but more the potential for photographs to be created through purely mechanical means. Although many post-1970s analogue cameras require batteries to activate electronic shutters, I wanted a camera that could operate via an intricate synchrony of gears, levers and shutters in the complete absence of batteries. Enter the Nikon FM2.



A fully mechanical 35mm SLR monster forged from rugged copper-silumin alloy, which had allegedly been found discarded in the Yugoslavian conflicts of the 1990s (where it sustained an honourable chink to its eyepiece). Being from the long-running Nikon-F family, it can also accept lenses that fit its far more complex electronic descendants, so felt like a natural and minimal addition to my kit.


Kea parrot black and white film photograph


Film stocks

Although still early in the game, it is already clear to me that I vastly prefer colour film. Besides the fact that colour can be easily converted into black-and-white during post-processing (but not vice versa), black-and-white simply misses out on the mesmeric hues that enchants film photography in the first place.


Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400


Fujicolor C200


Kodak 400TX



Kea parrot caution road sign in New Zealand
Forest in New Zealand film photography
Film photograph of mountains in New Zealand Arthur's Pass


Macro Digitising

To produce a shareable image after taking a shot and developing it into a negative, you must digitise it into a jpeg file. Shops often do this for you using dedicated scanners, but I have found the quality to be generally lacking. From badly aligned scans to subpar dust cleaning, let alone the expensive price, I have learned the best way to generate your photograph with maximum care and attention is to do it yourself.


Self-digitised negatives


Developing negatives requires a new set of chemical equipment and is the next step I will be experimenting with, but I can already digitise negatives using only my digital camera, a tripod and a macro lens.



Film photograph of kea parrot in new zealand shop

There is an undeniable and unexplainable satisfaction at the clicking of a shutter and winding of a new shot, and waiting days or even weeks to see if that release of precise mechanical tension produced anything noteworthy. This is a feeling that I believe will carry me to explore new paths in photography, and to take many many more cat photos



kea bird new zealand eating shoe


sphynx cat film photograph
sleeping cat film photograph
cat walking through gate film photograph
dog looking through window reflection film photograph
dark cat on street film photograph
cat licking tongue film photograph
abstract sky black and white film photograph new zealand