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In my last post I talked about using film again and showed a few shots taken in black and white. Now b&w can cover up many sins and mistakes but colour can be a little less forgiving, so the next challenge I set myself was to see what the ‘new’ F90x could actually do with colour film. Having looked at what’s available I decided that Kodak Portra 160 had just the feel I wanted. I will be trying out many other film, I think, but Portra seems to have that desaturated look I was going for. Velvia was very different, and the Ektar 100 I have sitting at home is different again. But the question was, could I achieve that look, the look that says, yes, this is a film shot, it’s not some digital instagrammed simulation, it’s the real thing.

A trip to Mountsberg Conservation area over Easter gave me the opportunity to shoot in the countryside but with enough buildings and objects around to break up what could otherwise be a fairly monotonous environment.

Here are some of the results. To my mind, I got exactly what I wanted.
Nikon F90x, Portra 160, scanned on Epson V550.



Mountsberg104Horse – at lunch

Mountsberg108CN train

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I don’t know why I would go back to shooting film again. A couple of months ago I found my old F60 and it still had a roll of film in it, only half-shot. I wondered, this last decade of shooting digital, of learning how to shoot, had it actually made me a better photographer? Remembering the years that I shot only film, because there was no alternative, I also remembered the anticipation of waiting for films to come back from Boots the Chemist or wherever else I had sent them. That anticipation often didn’t measure up to the final product, sometimes I had blurred the shot, or shooting with flash I had never understood the concept of sync speed, leading to a portion of the shot being blacked out by the moving shutter. Had I actually improved as a photographer? Well, at least I now understand sync speed and can recognise the problem for what it was, so maybe the rest of my ‘skills’ have also improved.

The F60 is a pretty lousy camera by comparison with some of the others out there, and you can pick up a great film camera for very little money these days. When I knew the bug was back I quickly bought a F90x (N90s in the US) and a Nikon FE for next to nothing. Poles apart, but both in great condition and fully functional. It took me a while to stop looking down at the back of the camera after each shot (seriously!), but I realised that I do understand f-stops, and ISO, and exposure in general and I think this will be more than just a passing fancy.





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