Fillm Photography

Gettysburg, a Black and White film visit, September 2018



This week's film shoot was a visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for dual trip back in time: In one sense I was traveling back to more than 150 years to the iconic Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, and, in another sense it was a much shorter hop back in time to the early 1990's when Canon's EOS Elan 7NE was the camera of choice for many 35mm film shooters.

I acquired the camera recently in excellent condition and at a very reasonable price and have been carrying it on my assignments with a couple of rolls of expired
Kodak T-Max Film. Enroute by car from recently from New York to Florida, I passed signs telling me I would be passing near the famous Gettysburg Civil War Battleground.

Although I was on a tight schedule and still had many hours of driving ahead of me that day, it was early, the site was not very crowded, and I decided this would be a promising place to put the old Canon SLR to the test.



Pulling into a parking lot, I loaded an old roll of T-Max 400 into the camera and set off down the walkway. Although I had a case full of lenses with me, I mounted my
Tamron 150-600 G2 zoom on the body and decided to look for pictures that would work with that lens. This a a technique I often use , especially when I have limited time and do not want to carry and juggle multiple lenses to fit a subject. With his method I am forced to make the lens fit the situation I am faced with.



While on the surface, the old battlefield is not much more than acres of slightly rolling Pennsylvania farmland, the knowledge that thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers had spent their final moments on this Earth here, fighting for their respective beliefs, the dozens of markers and monuments dedicated to those who had fought and fallen here, the civil war weaponry and artifacts on display, and the knowledge that the land and area remains much the same as it had been on those 3 bloody days of the Civil War back in 1863 lent an emotional and heavy air to the atmosphere.

While walking through the site, I stopped to read many plaques along the way. I photographed the views and sights that caught my fancy, keeping in mind that the scenes would be recorded in black and white and that when the second roll of film was finished, so was my photography for the day! That was a fact of life for photographers before the beginning of the digital age.



I was struck by the similarities between the Film SLR, a camera introduced by Canon in 2004, and today's Canon Digital SLR's. I shares the Manual, TV, AV, and Program modes with its digital cousins and had both the shutter speed finger dial and the camera back aperture dial that today's digital shooters will find familiar.

The Eye-focus feature that professed to control the camera's focus point by movement of the photographer's eye, had always intrigued me back in the day, but for now I remain ignorant of exactly how this feature functions, and will have to wait for some future date to try it out.



After quickly burning through my roll of T-Max 400, I loaded an expired roll of T-Max 3200 into the camera. I still have a couple of brick of this film, which went out of date back int he '90's, and have had reasonably good luck rating it at ISO400 and pull-processing it.



On my return home, I was anxious to get to my lab and soup the film. I ran it though
Ilfosol one-shot liquid developer diluted at 1:14 and before long had a couple of rolls of good-looking black and white negatives ready for scanning.

A review under my loupe told me that both the auto-focus and exposure functions on my old SLR were functioning properly. Once again, my years-old fascination with film photography provided me with a couple of pages of negatives for my files and the satisfaction of producing a selection of images which seem to reflect the spirit of the subject in a way that, while similar to post-processed digital files, have their very own finite properties that only film can provide.



To view my full EOS Elan 7NE 35mm film gallery, please click here


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www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.

Thrift Store Camera: Argus 100 35mm film camera


Front Straightaway pit structures, Sebring Raceway, Sebring , Florida
I've recently been drawn back to my photographic roots, which involves film photography. Not just loading a roll of film into a camera and going out and shooting pictures, but also bringing the film home, loading it into a tank, pouring in chemicals and processing the film myself.

Kodak D-76 Black & White Film Developer Powder to Make 1 Liter.

I'm not sure what satisfaction this brings me, but I do find it satisfying for sure. Reliving the early days of my career in photography involves the careful planning of each and every shot, know that you have a very limited number of shots available. There is no 64GB memory cards or delete buttons, only a finite number of exposures on a roll of film before you have to stop and reload, assuming you have more film with you.

Before you load each roll, you make several conscious decisions: color or black and white? 100 asa or 800 asa? Once the film is in the camera, there's no turning back, so to speak. These are the things that many photographer today don't really think about as they go about creating their photography.



Beyond this, in the last few weeks, I've decided to start shooting photos on old, cheap film cameras that I've discovered and purchased in thrift shops.

With that in mind, a few thoughts and photos on this week's Bargain Store acquisition: An old Argus 100 35mm film camera.


Argus 100 35mm film camera

This camera is basically a reloadable version of the throwaway, one-time use, cameras that were popular in the 1990's. Fixed focus, a high-low sliding aperture switch of bright light and low light, manual film cranking knurled knob, etc. I like the fact that this camera has a 38mm lens, which is slightly wider that a "normal" lens for 35mm film. While this was most likely intended to expand the focal depth go field, it also gives the photos a slightly wider look, drawing the viewer more into the photos. There is a hot shoe to attach a flash if you want to and, of course, a film rewind button and crank for when the roll is finished.


White Chapel, Granada River, Ormond Beach, Florida

Because there are no exposure controls, other than the sliding high light, low light switch, there is very little the photographer has to think about beyond composing the picture. One thing to keep in mind when shooting with these types of cameras, is that there are designed to give general exposure that will work with about ASA 100 to ASA 400 film, with the ASA 100 negatives being a little thin, of underexposed, and the 400 negatives being a little dense, or over-exposed.



The shutter speeds in these cameras are generally on the low side, so when using a camera like this you should make every effort to hold the camera very still while depressing the shutter button to avoid camera shake and motion blur.


Ormond Beach Yacht Club building, built in 1910

So I think what it comes down to is the satisfaction that can be derived from trying to use a tool pulled basically off of the junk pile, using old techniques and technology to create somewhat interesting images from today's world. Photographing things you see in the world today using a an old camera and film is a way of in and of itself to document those items in a way they've never been documented before.


Rural roadside mailboxes, Sebring , Florida

If you enjoy making digital photographs today, and have a desire to experience and appreciate the history of your craft, I'd definitely recommend dropping into your local Goodwill Store and picking up an old film camera, funning a few rolls of film through it, process the film yourself or send it to the lab and enjoy the results!

To view my full Argus 100 35mm film gallery, please click here


About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.






Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic Site on film


The Panetrary Court, built in 1896

A recent camping trip on an off-weekend between motorsport photo shoots at the Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic Site at Koreshan State Park in Estero , Florida seemed like the perfect opportunity to pull out one of my old 35mm film cameras and a roll of expired T-Max 400 and indulge my new/old obsession: film photography.

The Historic Site, which is all that remains of a religious community established in the late 1800's near Ft. Myers, Florida, is a photographically target-rich environment, just begging to be photographed on black and white film!



More than 100 years ago, the original settlers of the community moved here with visions of establishing a city which they hoped would grow to as many a s 10 million people and be a worldwide center for their religion. This vision did not quite pan out, and by the 1980's all the residents of the community were gone, leaving behind their story and the few physical structures that remain.



With the limited time I had, I made a couple of trips through the set, photographing it both digitally as well as on 35mm film. I used a Canon EOS 650, which was Canon's original EOS autofocus body back in the 80's, which I had picked up at an online auction for next to nothing. The beauty of these old canon bodies is that you can use all your current canon mount lenses with them, and their functions are fairly intuitive for a Canon shooter.


Interior view, Damkohler House, built in 1882

For someone like myself, who spent 20 years in film photography before the dawn of the digital age right about the turn of the century, it is hard to grasp the attraction I now feel for film photography, more than 15 years down the road from casting off all my old chemical-stained clothing. I think it has something to do with the deliberateness of the process, from determining the composition, focus and exposure to the finality of pressing the shutter button and advancing the film one more step toward the end of the roll, knowing that when the film is gone, the photography is over.



And, as someone recently told me, I am a glutton for punishment apparently, as I have even pulled all my old processing tanks out of storage, ordered chemical from
Amazon, and gone to work processing my own film. The excitement as I anticipate the images on the film is just like it was for me in the old days, when there was no other way to produce photographic images, I find that I am still unable to wait for the full duration of the fixing chemical time before I have pulled the wet film out of the fixer and am holding it up to the light with a magnifier to see what I've actually captured.


The Founder's House, built in 1896

Anyway, I was happy with the results of my hour spent at the Koreshan Unity Settlement with my old Canon EOS 650 and an expired roll of Kodak
T-Max 400, and would encourage any photography with a curiosity for the origins of his or her craft to pick up an old film camera and some film and give it a go. My belief is that it will only deepen your love for photography



To view my full 35mm film gallery from the Koreshan Unity Settlement, please
click here

About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.