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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