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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 ∎